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EU Ministers Encourage 'Momentum' In Iran Talks

BRUSSELS, September 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today expressed hope for a "breakthrough" in contacts with Iran over the country's nuclear project.

After the meeting, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja speaking as the current EU chair, said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has the full backing of the entire EU in his negotiations with Tehran.

"We gave our full support to Solana's efforts to find a breakthrough for a diplomatic solution," Tuomioja said. "The package remains there, we hope that we can -- or rather Javier Solana can -- finalize the negotiations in such a way which will pave the way for negotiations meeting the conditions set by the United Nations."

Solana, negotiating on behalf of the so-called EU-3 -- comprising Britain, Germany, and France -- said his contacts with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani have taken place in a "good atmosphere."

However, Solana said he was uncertain when the next meeting will take place, adding he "does not want to lose momentum."

An EU source present at today's ministers' meeting, told RFE/RL it appears Iran's leaders have yet to decide on a clear course of action.

EU Hoping For Fresh Signals From Iran

September 15, 2006 - Germany's Foreign Minister says the European Union is hoping for fresh political signals from Iran that could resolve the row over its nuclear program.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he hoped another meeting between the EU foreign-policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, would prompt Tehran to come up with fresh offers in the nuclear dispute. Solana and Larijani were due to meet on September 14, but their meeting was postponed and a new date has not been set.

Iran failed to meet an August 31 UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that makes fuel for nuclear power plants but also could be used to make nuclear weapons.

The United States has been pushing for a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, but the EU has said it wants to give priority o diplomacy.

(AFP, dpa)

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

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