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ElBaradei Welcomes Obama Iran Pledge

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency has expressed hope for talks between Iran and the administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Mohamed ElBaradei said Tuesday in Prague that discussions between the two sides could help ease tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama pledged to meet with Iranian leaders, a break from the policy of President George Bush.

The chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency has previously expressed frustration at what has been a stalemate between his agency and Tehran.

Representatives of the six world powers that have been pressing Iran to suspend part of its nuclear program will meet in Paris Thursday. Officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will gather to discuss their efforts.

The six powers have followed a dual strategy of offering Iran incentives to stop enriching uranium, and imposing sanctions if it refuses.

Except for Germany, the countries involved in the talks are the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Tehran is under three sets of Council sanctions, as well as other sanctions imposed by Washington and the European Union.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of working to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is intended solely to generate electricity.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.