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EU-Iran to launch long-term cooperation talks

London, Dec 10, IRNA -- The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rowhani will meet the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and Germany in Brussels on Monday to officially talk on a long-term nuclear cooperation agreement.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in London Friday told IRNA that the meeting would be held while Jack Straw, Michel Barnier, Joschka Fischer and EU High Representative Javier Solana attend their regular General Affairs Council with other foreign ministers.

The talks are part of the agreement reached last month by the so- called EU3 to allow confidence-building measures to overcome concerns over Iran's civilian nuclear programme.

In return for Iran offering to suspend the enrichment of uranium, the European Union has offered to provide Tehran "guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues."

The spokesman said that a steering committee, made up of senior officials, was being set up, as well as three working groups on political and security issues, technology and cooperation, and nuclear issues.

The steering committee is due to meet again within three months to receive progress reports from the working groups and move ahead with projects and measures that can be implemented in advance of a full long-term agreement.

The 25-nation EU is also due to formally agree to resume stalled talks with Iran on a trade and cooperation agreement, which includes European support for its membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and loans by international financial institutions.

The first test of EU support will come next week, when the WTO is due to consider Iran's 20th bid to start accession talks, which have previously been blocked by the US.

At their General Affairs Council, EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the so-called Paris Agreement with Iran, which has been unanimously endorsed by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Straw has previously described the deal a "significant development in relations between Europe and Iran." Solana has also said work on long-term arrangements "could now proceed rapidly" and aim at providing lasting confidence over Iran's nuclear programme.

The session on General Affairs is essentially being dedicated to the European Council summit next week, which marks the end of the Dutch 6-month presidency.

The final declaration of the two-day summit in Brussels, starting on December 16, is expected to include an endorsement of the EU's policy towards Iran.

... Payvand News - 12/10/04 ... --

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