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Iran, EU Seek Nuclear Deal


The Iranian government's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, says his country and the European Union are edging toward a common view in some areas in their talks to end an international deadlock over Iran's nuclear program. He spoke after day-long talks in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Amberin Zaman has details for VOA from Istanbul.

Speaking at a joint news conference with EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Larijani sounded cautiously upbeat over the results of the negotiations.

"We are aiming to find a way to help settle this problem," said Solana. "In some areas, we are approaching a united view and that is the best approach - to have the issues settled through negotiations."

Larijani described his talks with Solana as "frank and transparent." He said "new ideas" had been discussed but declined to elaborate.

Solana said he considered it a positive step that the meeting took place at all and expressed his belief that some progress has been made.

"Dr. Larijani has said that we had a good meeting yesterday, we have not made [sic] miracles but we have tried to move the [nuclear] dossier little bit forward," he said.

Solana indicated that the EU talks with Iran - the first in more than two months - would likely continue.

Iran remains at loggerheads with the international community over its refusal to suspend any part of its uranium enrichment program. Iran insists the program is intended solely for energy-related purposes, but there is widespread concern among Western nations, and Israel in particular, that Iran's enrichment program is part of a program to build a nuclear bomb.

Larijani made it clear that Iran will not consider suspending its nuclear enrichment program. The United Nations is demanding that it do so before it lifts economic and trade sanctions on Tehran.

Officials close to the talks say the EU is working on a compromise. That means finding a definition of enrichment that could be acceptable to both sides in the dispute.

One idea is for Iran to suspend uranium fuel production but to continue building or testing centrifuge machines that are used to enrich uranium.

A Turkish official, speaking on strict condition of anonymity, offered a less optimistic opinion of Thursday's talks. He said little progress had been achieved in breaking the deadlock. He added, however, that a common will and determination existed on both sides because of what he termed "the very high stakes involved."

Larijani and Solana did not say when or where their next meeting would take place.

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