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EU underlines that dialogue and engagement with Iran will continue

Brussels, Jan 18, IRNA -- The European Union Tuesday took a clear distance from the aggressive American approach towards Iran and stressed that the process of engagement with the Islamic Republic will continue.

"We are working with our Iranian partners in good faith as they are working with us in good faith and we will pursue that path as long as it is possible and fruitful to do so,'' European Commission spokesperson for external relations, Emma Udwin, told reporters in Brussels Tuesday afternoon.

"We have embarked on this process and we will continue because we believe that this is a process good for us and good for the Iranians,'' Udwin said.

She was replying to a reporter's question during the daily Commission news conference on reports published in the New Yorker magazine Monday which claimed that US commandos have been carrying out covert operations inside Iran to prepare for military strikes.

Udwin said the Americans have denied the New Yorker report, adding that there was no discussion of any such activities when Commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner visited Washington last week for talks with US officials.

"Our approach is separate and independent approach through which we are working in engagement with the Iranians to find a broad package that we hope will persuade the Iranians to make their suspension of enrichment activities permanent and we continue that work,'' said the EU spokeswoman.

Udwin noted that EU-Iran negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) were launched only last week in Brussels.

''That work is in hand as is our separate talks with the EU3, (France, Germany and the UK),'' she said.

In reply to another question on remarks reportedly made Tuesday by US President George Bush that one cannot exclude military actions against Iran or any other country, Udwin replied:

"The EU and the US have the same objectives in Iran but have looked at different ways of obtaining the goal."

"The goal is a militarily non-nuclear Iran. We as Europeans are working through the process of engagement to attain that goal and we are working in good faith and we hope that there will be no need to consider other options,'' Udwin added.

... Payvand News - 1/18/05 ... --

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