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Fourth round of Iran-EU talks concludes in Geneva without tangible progress

Vienna, March 11, IRNA -- Representatives of the Iran and the EU troika (Germany, France, Britain) concluded their fourth round of breath-taking talks earlier Friday evening in Geneva, Switzerland, having achieved no further progress compared to the 3rd round.

An Iranian official told IRNA after leaving the conference hall where the talks were held, "Our talks are over for the time being, but since the two sides have not come up with tangible results, the talks would be followed up for achieving such results at the Steering Committee soon."

The Official who spoke on condition of anonymity, focussing on the time for the IRI-EU Troika's next round of talks, added, "the Steering Committee is scheduled to meet on March 23rd, before which the Technical-Nuclear Committee and two other committees must have presented their relative reports to that committee."

On the outcome of the fourth round of talks, he said, "We pursued a tough and complicated fourth round with the EU big 3, and the two side are now required to continue their talks aimed at drafting the Steering Committees's report."

In response to IRNA's question on his evaluation of this round of talks, the member of the IRI nuclear negotiating team said, "The talks are yet unfinished, particularly at the Technological-Nuclear Committee, but as yet we have not reached any clear point to report it to the Steering Committee."

According to another report, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to announce Washington's viewpoints on Iran-EU talks at press conference a few hours from now.

Iran and the three European countries involved in nuclear talks over Tehran's nuclear plans started their fourth round of talks in Geneva on Tuesday behind closed doors at three work groups, namely the Economic-Trade, the Political-Security and the Technical-Nuclear committees.

The talks at the Technical-Nuclear Committee were scheduled to end on Thursday night, but since the discussions had not reached any point near drawing a conclusion, both sides agreed to continue them for another day till Friday evening.

Also, the the representatives of the IR of Iran and the EU troika were scheduled to present the sum-up of their fourth round of talks on Friday to the Steering Committee, but apparently, since they have not yet reached any tangible results, that, too, has been postponed to a later opportunity.

The talks that ended on Friday in Geneva were the fourth round of their kind in last three months, the first round of which were held in Belgium's capital, Brussels, and the rest three in Geneva, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, an informed diplomat in Vienna had earlier Friday told IRNA that the talks at Iran-EU Technical-Nuclear Committee in Geneva have had no progress in their fourth round.

The Vienna-based diplomat added, "The two sides have reached a sensitive point, at which no side is willing to show any further license, or give any more concessions."

He, who also talked on condition of anonymity, reiterated, "Iran regards suspension of its uranium enrichment activities a short-term measure aimed at trust-building, but the European side's efforts are aimed at convincing the Islamic Republic to totally abandon its enrichment activities."

He further noted, "The Iranian delegation on Thursday definitely rejected the European side's proposal to totally abandon IRI's uranium enrichment activities, and instead proposed a strategy aimed at giving authentic guarantees that Iran's nuclear activities will by no means be converted into any military purposes."

He added, "Iran's latest proposal, too, does not meet the EU's demands, that insists total suspension of uranium suspension is the best guarantee in that respect."

Meanwhile, a few hours after the end of the fourth round of Iran-EU nuclear talks in Geneva, the three EU states leading tense nuclear talks with Iran said Friday progress has been slower than hoped, and while voicing hope they can succeed warned Tehran risks being referred to the UN if they fail.

Britain, France and Germany, reiterated their commitment to diplomacy in an update to the EU's Luxembourg presidency.

"While progress is not as fast as we would wish, we believe we are moving in the right direction ... and that we should have at least preliminary results to show from the negotiations in the period ahead," they said in a report.

The report, co-signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries as well as EU foreign policy head Javier Solana, said that if Iran continues to suspend uranium enrichment activities and that is verified by the UN's IAEA nuclear watchdog, the issue could be resolved by IAEA governors.

"If on the other hand, despite our efforts Iran does not do so, then as has been implicit in the agreements reached with Iran and well understood by all concerned, we shall have no choice but to support referring Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council," they said.

The Europeans, who started the talks with Iran after Tehran gave assurances about its nuclear plans at the end of last year, say military action would be a mistake.

... Payvand News - 3/12/05 ... --

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