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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

EU's Solana notes progress at talks with Iran's Larijani

RIA Novosti

26/04/2007 19:22 ANKARA, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - The EU's leading foreign policy and security official said Thursday that progress had been made during talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Turkey.

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Larijani held two-day talks in Ankara aimed at overcoming the crisis around the Iranian nuclear program, which Western nations and Israel suspect is a covert weapons program. The Islamic Republic has consistently claimed it is pursuing civilian nuclear power generation.

"Certain progress was noted at the talks, but the situation is still not simple," Solana told journalists after a meeting with Larijani.

The day before the Ankara talks, Western and local media carried reports citing an anonymous source close to the Iran Six, consisting of five permanent UN Security Council members - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - and Germany, as saying international mediators could allow Iran to enrich small amounts of uranium.

Larijani also gave a positive assessment of the talks.

Earlier Thursday, Larijani said Iran's talks with the European Union concerning its nuclear program could begin immediately.

"We have had positive and constructive talks with Javier Solana. I hope talks will be resumed. They could be started immediately," Larijani said, adding that the situation should be settled within the framework of international law.

Solana, in turn, said he hopes EU-Iran talks will continue, and that the Iran problem will be settled through diplomacy.

"Of course, no miracle happened at the talks in Ankara. But it was not our last meeting," he said.

Solana and Larijani announced Wednesday that EU-Iran talks on the Iran nuclear program will continue in two weeks.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran March 24 over its refusal to abandon its nuclear program, toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

But in defiance of international efforts, Iran announced in April it had started production of nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, and voiced its determination to defend a legitimate right to possess nuclear power.

High-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have repeatedly stated that Iran would not discuss shutting down its uranium enrichment program even if discussions with five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are resumed.

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