02/21/2006, 00.00
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Iran and Russia to continue nuclear talks

According to Tehran, talks in Moscow have produced an agreement based on a common formula, but Russia's foreign minister is only prepared to say that "talks continue".

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An agreement based on a common formula should allow talks between Russia and Iran on Moscow's uranium enrichment proposal to continue. Although the agreement announced by the head of the Iranian delegation Seyyed-Ali Hosseini-Tash on his return from Moscow after two-day talks with Russian officials raises more questions than answers, at least it gives diplomacy some room to manoeuvre.

Mr Hosseini-Tash said that "after positive and constructive talks, the two sides reached a basic agreement on principle of a common formula". Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov however was only prepared to say that "it is too early to talk about results. The negotiations are continuing."

Talks in Moscow centred on Russia's plan to enrich uranium on its territory for use in Iran's reactors to forestall a collision between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Tehran's nuclear programme.

"The results of Russian-Iranian consultations held in Moscow revealed possibilities for reaching an agreement on Russia's proposal to create a uranium enrichment joint venture on Russian territory," Mr Hosseini-Tash said. "There are certain elements of the negotiations that give hope that an agreement may be reached," he added.

"The format of this round of negotiations was broader than the Russian proposal, because the framework of negotiations that are of priority to Iran were also discussed at the talks," he said.

"Now in addition to Russia other countries must get involved. The main issue is to create a more normal situation, reduce tensions and not make unreasonable demands on one another."

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in a meeting yesterday with his Belgian counterpart Carl De Gucht stressed that Iran would adopt independent stands on continuation of its nuclear activities based on international laws, Iran's news agency IRNA reported. He stressed that "no deviation from the international laws and the NPT treaty has taken place".

Mottaki insisted that if the EU wishes to have a constructive presence it must keep in mind that it needs "to cooperate with Iran to achieve its [Iran's] right in having the full cycle of the nuclear fuel technology."

In reference to the stalled talks with the EU, Mottaki said that at "the current time the European Union has said it is ready to accept an eventual agreement between Iran and Russia. This means that if there is a need to have official discussions with the European Union it will be to complete the Russian proposal."

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