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Solana hopeful of opening new chapter in EU-Iran ties

Brussels, Nov 17, IRNA -- European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana is optimistic that the EU-Iran nuclear agreement concluded on Sunday would open the way for closer cooperation between Brussels and Tehran.

"Mr. Solana is hopeful that the provisional agreement reached opens this new chapter. He is hopeful because for the EU this is very important issue. For Iran as well it is a very important issue. It is very important as well for the whole region," Cristina Gallach, spokesperson for the EU foreign policy chief, told IRNA in an interview in Brussels Wednesday.

On Monday, Iran and the EU Big 3 (Germany, France and Britain) concluded a deal to assure the world of the peaceful nature of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

"This agreement opens the way. Potentially it is the start of a new chapter in our relations," Solana had said in a statement on Monday.

Gallach noted that the whole region was passing through great difficulties -- the Palestinian problem in the aftermath of Arafat's death, Iraq, Afghanistan.

"Therefore, the opening of a new chapter could lead to a more stable relationship. Mr. Solana is ready to commit himself to this process," she said.

Gallach explained that the deal was very important because it could put the relationship between the two sides on a stable basis provided the long-term negotiations between the European bloc and the Islamic Republic in all areas -- economic, political, security -- under a totally different perspective end successfully.

"We now opened an important door and through this door we can enter into important negotiations," said Gallach.

She stated that talks were going to be complex because the items that were going to be discussed were "extremely sensitive for everybody."

"The issues to be tackled include economic issues, political issues, security and nuclear issues and these issues are very, very complex. Therefore, if we find an agreement this would mean that we enter this new chapter," Gallach told IRNA.

"We have now to enter the talks with goodwill and transparency. We expect from the Iranians total transparency. Let's hope for the best," she said.

Gallach noted that once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gives a clean bill on Iran's commitment to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities, this would lead immediately to the resumption of negotiations for a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which were suspended last year in June.

"I also want to underline that the Europeans are ready as soon as the verification of the suspension is positive to start working in order to support the accession of Iran to the WTO. This is a very important item for Iran and we committed ourselves to do so," said Solana's spokesperson.

Solana will remain in contact with Iranian diplomatic representatives in Brussels to follow up the issue.

"We have now the structures, the agreement that should allow us to move forward," added Gallach.

The EU and Iran are expected to begin negotiations on a long-term agreement in early December.

... Payvand News - 11/17/04 ... --

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