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Iranian Official: Tehran's Top Nuclear Negotiator, IAEA Chief to Meet  


An Iranian official says Tehran's top nuclear negotiator and the head of the U.N. nuclear agency will meet Tuesday, as a deadline looms for Iran to halt its sensitive nuclear work.

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh says Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei will meet in Vienna.

The IAEA would not confirm that a meeting was planned.

A meeting would come a day ahead of a U.N. Security Council deadline, February 21 for Iran to stop enriching uranium or face possible further sanctions. The IAEA is expected to issue a report later this week confirming that Iran has defied a Security Council order to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Late last year, the Security Council passed economic sanctions against Iran in relation to the nuclear standoff.

In other news, a top Iranian nuclear official said Iran is up to date with its payments for a Russian-built nuclear power plant. Iran's state news agency (IRNA) quoted the official as saying Iran has been making payments according to the contract for the Bushehr plant.

Earlier, Russian officials were quoted as saying the opening of the plant may be delayed because the Iranian government was behind on payments.

Russia is due to begin nuclear fuel deliveries to the plant in March. The nuclear power station is scheduled to open in September.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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