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. EU urges Iran to use US policy change to seal atomic deal
BRUSSELS, April 24 (AFP) Apr 24, 2009
The European Union will urge Iran to take advantage of a change in US policy to seal a deal and end the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, according to a draft document Friday.

EU foreign ministers, at a meeting in Luxembourg Monday, will welcome Washington's new attitude saying it creates a "window of opportunity" for talks on Iran's atomic programme and other issues, the document said.

"The EU calls upon Iran to seize this opportunity to engage seriously with the international community in a spirit of mutual respect, in order to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue," it said.

Such a solution "will address Iran's interests, including the development of a civil nuclear power generation programme, as well as the international community's concerns.

"The evolution of our relations with Iran will also depend on it."

Western powers fear that Iran's nuclear drive could be a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists it is aimed purely at generating electricity for a growing population.

The Europeans have been struggling since 2006 to persuade the Islamic republic to accept a package of political and economic incentives in exchange for an end to uranium enrichment.

Enrichment is a process for powering a nuclear reactor, but at highly refined levels the uranium can be used to build the core of an atom bomb, which many countries fear the Islamic Republic is trying to covertly develop.

Iran, which is labouring under three sets of UN sanctions, has refused to sit down at the negotiating table if it has to suspend uranium enrichment even before the talks begin.

While Washington is offering dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the new administration of President Barack Obama would be prepared to push for tough sanctions against Iran if the new dialogue fails.

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