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EU, Iran to resume trade and human rights negotiations

Brussels, Dec 11, IRNA -- The European Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran are set to resume negotiations for a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) as well as on the subject of human rights.

"We are already in contact with our Iranian counterparts looking for dates. We suggested the dates of mid-January to have the next session. We are waiting for the Iranian response," an EU official told journalists in Brussels Friday.

TCA negotiations have been on ice since June 2003 due to EU concerns over Iran's nuclear program. Negotiations are expected to resume from where they had stopped.

The EU Foreign Ministers' Council will discuss relations with Iran when it meets in Brussels on Monday.

Following the Paris Agreement on November 15 between France, Germany and the UK, with the support of EU High Representative Javier Solana, and the unanimous adoption on November 29 of a resolution on Iran by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the EU is following through what it had promised, noted the official.

There are other items attached to the Paris Agreement such as supporting and preparing Iran for World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official stated that the EU has put down four priority issues in its engagement with Iran which include terrorism, human rights, the Middle East and Iran's nuclear program.

"They are important as they were before, particularly human rights."

"The human rights situation remains a matter of concern for us like the arrest of journalists in October. We have seen some modest signs of progress in our work with the Iranians in the human rights dialogue we have with them.

"There has been an evaluation of the human rights dialogue. We remain convinced that it is a very useful process which should continue. And we are seeking a date for the next session," said the official.

Meanwhile, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, will meet the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK and Solana in Brussels on Monday to discuss a long-term EU-Iran economic and political cooperation agreement.

... Payvand News - 12/11/04 ... --

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