The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deal on fresh Tehran talks

Vienna, Dec. 21 (Reuters): Talks between Iran and the European Union’s big three powers ended on Wednesday with an agreement to hold more negotiations in January aimed at easing concerns about Tehran’s atomic programme.

Wednesday’s “talks about talks” in Vienna between France, Britain and Germany and Iran were aimed at determining whether there was a basis for further discussion between the two sides.

“We agreed to continue our talks in January. Regarding the location, we have agreed on Vienna,” Javad Vaeedi, the head of the Iranian delegation, told reporters.

The head of France’s delegation, Stanislav Laboulaye, was less firm on a meeting next month.

“The two sides agreed to consult their respective leaderships with a view to holding another round of talks in January, with the aim of agreeing a framework for negotiations,” Laboulaye said. “Both sides set out their positions in an open and frank manner,” he added.

The EU wants Iran to abandon uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for power stations or nuclear bombs, while Iran insists on its right to enrichment for peaceful purposes.

The West suspects Iran is seeking nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear power programme. Iran denies the charge.

At the morning session in Vienna today, Iran reaffirmed its determination to pursue a fully-fledged nuclear programme.

Iranian delegate Mohammad Mehdi Akhonzadeh said after the early session ' the first face-to-face meeting of the sides in four months ' that the atmosphere was “good”. “We expressed our views and came to know each other. It’s too early to talk about results.”

The Islamic republic’s increasingly vocal hostility towards Israel and commitment to developing sensitive technology that could yield ingredients for nuclear weaponry have stoked western concern about its atomic ambitions.

Tehran says it aims only to generate more electricity for an energy-hungry economy. But it dodged UN nuclear inspectors for 18 years until 2003 and the West says its cooperation since has fallen short of what is needed to regain diplomatic confidence.

EU officials said today’s meeting was “talks about talks” ' exploring whether any basis exists for renewed negotiations.

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