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EU to tell US that negotiations with Iran will continue

Leaders from both sides of the Atlantic will gather at the EU-US summit on Washington on Wednesday to discuss bilateral ties, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, terrorism, WMDs and other issues of mutual interests, IRNA reported from Brussels.

On Iran, EU leaders are expected to tell the Americans that Brussels will continue its dialogue and negotiations with the Islamic Republic, said EU sources in Brussels Monday.

''We are under pressure by the US, but our message will be that we cannot go beyond the Luxembourg declaration on Iran,'' said the sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

EU foreign ministers during their meeting in Luxembourg last week urged Iran to sign the Additional Protocols to the NPT saying that ''deepening of economic and commercial relations between the EU and Iran should be matched by similar progress in all other aspects of EU relations with Iran.''

The sources said the EU-US summit will issue a statement on the NPT in which reference to Iran and North Korea will be made.

EU and Iran launched a Trade and Cooperation Agreement negotiations last December along with political negotiations.

''This is a summit which is perhaps not a normal summit, first obviously because of the transatlantic strains. We cannot claim that business is as usual. We are emerging from a period of strain,'' said the sources referring to EU-US differences over the war on Iraq.

The Washington summit is expected to lead to concrete results in important areas such as the signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and Extradition Agreements between the EU and the US.

The MLA will be the first ever agreement on legal co-operation in the fight against crime that the EU signs with a third country.

There will be joint statements on container security and customs cooperation as well as joint initiative in the fight against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

''Our data protection authorities are very concerned about the passenger screening,'' said the EU sources pointing to US demands to giv the American authorities all data about passengers traveling from Europe to the US.

''We haven't reached any deal yet. We must reconcile both the security concerns and civil liberties,'' said the sources.

The summit will start in the White House Oval Office Wednesday morning with a 20-minute meeting among US President George Bush, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis who is the current EU President, and Commission President Romano Prodi.

This will be followed by a one-hour plenary session in which Bush will be accompanied by 13 of his top cabinet members including Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice.

But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not take part in the EU-US summit.

EU officials participating in the one-day summit include foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Greek Foreign Minister Georg Papandreou, Commissioner for energy and transport Loyala de Palacaio , Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy.

EU Commissioner for external relations Chris Patten will not be attending because he has to be sworn-in as the new chancellor of the University of Oxford on Wednesday.

... Payvand News - 6/23/03 ... --

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