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Iranian President Open To Nuclear Talks Despite 'Insult'

9 August 2005 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said today that he is still prepared to negotiate with the European Union despite an offer from the bloc that the newly inaugurated leader described as "an insult."

Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying he had initiatives and new propositions for fresh talks with the EU. But Ahmadinejad said recent EU offers of nuclear, commercial, and political cooperation in exchange for Iran halting its nuclear activities "an insult to the Iranian people."

Iran's decision to resume some uranium-conversion activities at its Isfahan facility prompted the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to hold an urgent meeting today to discuss Tehran's decision.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today that it was for the IAEA to decide whether the Iranian nuclear issue should be brought to the UN Security Council.

"If the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency should decide that it has to go to the Security Council and naturally counteractive measures should be discussed there, the overriding goal has to be that we solve this very difficult and worrying conflict peacefully," Schroeder said. "An escalation doesn't serve anyone either economically or politically."

Mohammad Saidi, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said today that the IAEA told Tehran it would remove the seals at a section of Isfahan nuclear facility before tomorrow afternoon.

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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