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EU, Iran resume political dialogue

Brussels, Jan 13, IRNA -- European Union and Iranian officials resumed political negotiations in Brussels on Thursday morning.

The fourth round of the political dialogue consists of issues such as human rights, regional security in the Middle East, the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Iranian delegation to the political talks is led by Ebrahim Rahimpour, director general for Western Europe at Iran's Foreign Ministry.

The EU side is led by Ambassador Paul Meatz from Luxembourg, whose country holds the current EU Presidency.

On Wednesday in Brussels, EU and Iran held the fifth round of negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

The negotiations, initially launched in Brussels in December 2002, were under a pause since June 2003 due to EU concerns over Iran's nuclear program.

The two sides have decided to hold the sixth round of TCA negotiations in Tehran in March, Esfandiar Omidbakhsh, a spokesman for the Iranian delegation to the talks, told IRNA.

He said Wednesday's meeting covered issues like market access, rules and regulations related to trade matters and cooperation. The topics are similar to the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"The EU expects that we comply all our trade regime to the WTO rules and regulations. This is both an important but a difficult process," Omidbakhsh told IRNA.

The completion of this process will take a long time, because it is very technical and complicated, he noted.

"What is important in these negotiations is the exchange of concessions. In the next round we will enter into this very important part of our negotiations," added the Iranian official.

The EU team to the TCA was led by Christian Leffler, head of the Middle East and North Africa Department, at the European Commission.

"Iran is an important regional actor, both economically and politically. We wish to help Iran find its place in the region to re-engage with the international community," Leffler told the 'Euronews' TV.

Kia Tabatabai, director general of economic affairs at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, led the Iranian side to the TCA negotiations.

The decision to resume TCA negotiations follows the 'Paris agreement' between Iran and the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and the subsequent verification of the suspension of Iran's enrichment and reprocessing activities as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution of November 2004.

The negotiation and conclusion of the agreement will help develop economic exchanges and cooperation between the EU and Iran.

... Payvand News - 1/13/05 ... --

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