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IAEA chief leaves Tehran hopeful of Iran's cooperation

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei wound up his one-day visit to Tehran Wednesday evening after fruitful talks with senior Iranian officials on ways to bolster bilateral cooperation, IRNA reported.

ElBaradei's visit took place at the invitation of Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh.

During his one-day visit, his second to Iran, he held talks with President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and Aqazadeh on the possibility of increasing cooperation between Iran and the IAEA.

He was in Iran in February on a regular inspection visit.

The IAEA chief said in Germany before heading for Tehran that he is visiting Iran to encourage Tehran to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for further inspection over Iran's nuclear facilities.

President Khatami pledged cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog but insisted that Iran would not submit to 'ill-intentioned' pressures.

While cooperating with the IAEA, the Islamic Republic of Iran would try to remove any misunderstandings, he told ElBaradei.

He dismissed pressures on Iran as 'biased' and said, "We are bent on safeguarding our national interests but I assure you that we do not need nuclear weapons to reach our aims."

In his meeting with Kharrazi, ElBaradei said that Iran needed to exercise utmost transparency with regards to its nuclear activities as a trust building step.

"We believe it is only through this framework that Iran has a right to use nuclear energy and related technology for peaceful purposes," ElBaradei told reporters at a news conference after meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

Kharrazi said his talks with the IAEA chief had been held in 'a very positive and friendly environment', stressing that ElBaradei's visit was a positive step towards promoting Iran's cooperation with the agency.

Kharrazi criticized the double-standard policy practiced by the IAEA toward Israel's nuclear activities.

"There is no pressure on Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while it possesses all kinds of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"However, Iran is already a signatory to the NPT and has a very transparent cooperation with IAEA, and is determined to continue this cooperation."

Kharrazi stressed that Iran is not following any covert nuclear program, and reassured the Iranian nation that the atomic energy will be used in line with the country's national interests and merely for peaceful purposes.

... Payvand News - 7/10/03 ... --

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