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9/3/06

Annan Says Iran Wants Talks On Nuclear Program

September 3, 2006 -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has reaffirmed that Tehran wants to find a negotiated solution to its nuclear standoff with the world.

Annan was speaking after talks in Iran with the Iranian president.

At the same time, Annan said Ahmadinejad once again rejected any suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment program before negotiations.

Iran's rejection of that demand, contained in the latest Security Council resolution, could make it subject to sanctions.

Annan also said Ahmadinejad promised Tehran's full support for the cease-fire resolution in Lebanon between Israel and Hizballah, an ally of Iran.

Annan had on September 2 met with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, who described the talks as "constructive" and said "both sides agreed that problems should be solved through negotiations."

Annan's talks in Tehran ended hours before Larijani was due to meet the EU's foreign affairs chief, Javier Solana.

On September 2, Solana said the talks with Iran are not negotiations, but clarifications of the Iranian position.

EU foreign ministers have expressed a desire for renewed diplomacy, but said they would not give Iran much time to resolve its standoff with the international community.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said on September 3 that Iran expects the EU to take a stand "in the coming days" on Tehran's response to the package of incentives offered to Iran in a bid to persuade it to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

(compiled from agency reports)


Copyright (c) 2006 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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