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Iran's nuclear facilities
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Iran offers fresh nuclear talks with EU
Chief nuclear negotiator tells EU foreign affairs chief Islamic Republic ready to reach bilateral agreements; while Tehran, Moscow agree to boost nuclear cooperation

Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has written to the European Union foreign affairs chief to announce the Islamic state's readiness for fresh nuclear talks with major powers, the foreign minister said on Sunday.

 

"A few days ago, Mr. Jalili's letter was sent to Ms. Catherine Ashton ... saying Iran is prepared for talks ... to reach bilateral agreements," Ali Akbar Salehi said in a news conference, when asked about Iran's nuclear work.

 

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"We have received the letter, and we will study it carefully," a spokesman for Ashton said on Sunday.

 

Iran's nuclear talks with major powers in January failed after the Islamic state refused to halt its uranium enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council.

 


Iranian nuclear facility (Archives: Reuters)

 

The United States and its European allies fear Iran is trying to build atomic bombs under cover of its nuclear program. Tehran denies it, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

 

After talks with his European Union counterpart in Geneva in February, Salehi hoped there would be further meetings, but no date was set.

 

In May, the EU rejected a similar letter from Tehran requesting nuclear talks, saying it contained nothing new that would justify a further round of meetings.

 

Iran has been hit by international sanctions for refusing to halt its sensitive nuclear activities, which it says is only aimed at generating electricity.

 

Boosting ties with Russia

Meanwhile, Iran's official news agency reported that the country has agreed to increase its nuclear cooperation with Russia.

 

Iran's first nuclear power plant was built with Russian help and after years of delays is to begin a preliminary phase of electricity production on Monday.

 

The IRNA news agency reported Sunday that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said important agreements were signed by both sides in nuclear and other fields.

 

Salehi spoke after meeting with visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko. Salehi did not elaborate. Currently there are no plans for Russia to help build another plant.

 

Shmatko will attend Monday's inauguration ceremony at the Bushehr power plant.

 

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, but the US fears Tehran is intent on a weapons capability.

 

 

 

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