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Iran tops agenda at EU summit

Newport, Wales, Sept 1, IRNA-EU Foreign Ministers arrived for their six-monthly informal meeting under the British presidency with Iran's nuclear programme at the top of the agenda.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, hosting the meeting at Newport in South Wales, was reported to be seeking an international consensus ahead of the next scheduled board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on September 19.

"We should take stock on Iran and discuss how we might best pursue the nuclear file over the coming weeks," Straw said in a letter to his EU counterparts leaked to the Financial Times.

"This might also be an opportunity to discuss what Iran's new government and its breaking of the Paris agreement means for EU-Iran relations over the coming months," he further suggested.

IAEA secretary general Mohammad ElBaradei is due to present a report on Iran's nuclear programme on September 3, but rather then press for an immediate meeting of the board, IRNA learnt that the UK had decided to wait for the other members to digest the contents.

One of the crucial issues over the constant pressure from the US to refer the case to the UN Security Council, after failure to reach a consensus at last month's IAEA board.

According to the Financial Times, European diplomats say that Britain, France and Germany, which have been leading negotiations with Iran to reach a long-term agreement on its nuclear programme, are determined to take the issue to the UN in New York.

Although the 35-member IAEA board normally acts by consensus, the so-called EU3 were said to be willing to press ahead despite the risk of a veto at the Security Council, unless Iran again suspends its uranium enrichment programme, which was partly resumed last month.

"Everyone would prefer consensus, which would send a much stronger message to the international community. But, if you say that it's the only way you're doing it, you're giving a clear advantage to Iran to fish for someone to block the referral," an EU diplomat was quoted saying.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that the Newport meeting was expected to assess Iran's nuclear question. It followed reports of a Paris talks between top officials from the EU3.

... Payvand News - 9/1/05 ... --

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