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EU committed to dialogue and engagement with Iran

The European Union has reiterated its commitment to continue the process of dialogue and engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran ahead of a new round of EU-Iran negotiations, IRNA reported from Brussels, Belgium.

The fourth round of EU-Iran negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TAC) along with political negotiations will be held in Tehran from June 1- 3.

''We are very committed to the dialogue and engagement with Iran. We made good progress. We hope very much it will continue this way,'' Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for the European Commission's external relations, told IRNA in Brussels.

She said the upcoming negotiations will focus on trade issues such as customs, rules of origin, procurement etc.

During the third round of negotiations held in Brussels in April, the EU gave a lot of background material to Iran on the issues under discussion.

''We are looking forward for a feedback from the Iranians. Things are positive. We are at an early stage of the negotiations. We are still explaining a lot of things,'' Udwin said.

The TCA negotiations are being conducted by the Commission, the executive body of the EU. The political negotiations are led by the member state that holds the EU Presidency, currently Greece.

The EU side to the trade talks will be led by Karl Friedrich Falkenberg, while a Greek foreign ministry official lead the political negotiations.

Udwin said that the Commission is in close discussions with Iran on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The EU, she said, is waiting for the report of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei on 16 June on Iran's nuclear program.

The spokeswoman said the EU thinks that if Iran signs the additional protocols to the nuclear treaty, ''it will send a positive signal to the region and to the international community.''

''We want to continue the engagement and it will be helpful for us to continue if Iran signs the additional protocol. Transparency will be a very positive signal at a moment when the international community is concerned about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,'' noted Udwin.

''We listen carefully to what the Iranians say,'' Udwin noted, referring to the recent meeting in Paris between Iranian foreign minister Dr. Kamal Kharrazi and EU Commissioner for external relations Chris Patten.

''We hear from the Iranian government that Iran's nuclear program is purely for civil purposes. We know that Iran adheres to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and treaties on chemical and biological weapons.'' ''It is all positive, and by agreeing to transparency on NNPT Iran will send a very positive signal to the world,'' Udwin underlined.

Iran and the EU launched landmark talks on a TCA in December last year to put their bilateral relations on a solid basis.

In parallel they also began political negotiations that deals with issues like fight against terrorism and drugs trafficking, weapons of mass destruction and human rights.

Moreover, EU and Iran also launched last December a dialogue on human rights with the participation of government officials, NGOs, academics and human rights groups.

... Payvand News - 5/29/03 ... --

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