04/26/2007, 00.00
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A glimmer of hope in the Iran nuclear stand-off

Following a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Solana, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Larjiani says the two parties have moved a bit closer. Envisaged plan would include a gradual end to the enrichment programme without dismantling already existing components.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – There is a glimmer of hope that the Iranian nuclear programme controversy might be resolved. A new definition of a partial enrichment freeze acceptable to both sides is the key issue to resolving the deadlock between Tehran, which refuses to freeze its uranium enrichment programme, and the UN Security Council, which demands that it do so.

A new possible deal might be emerging from meetings in Ankara, Turkey, between Javier Solana, the European Union's senior foreign policy official, and Ali Larjiani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator. However, no official comment about the meetings has been made.

In a joint press conference today between the two negotiators, attended by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Mr Larjiani said the meetings brought the points of view of the parties closer together. He reiterated his country’s position that a solution is possible through negotiations, that inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency must continue and the Non Proliferation Treaty must be enforced.

Both Solana and Larjiani said that discussions would continue again in two weeks. The Iranian negotiator described Wednesday's discussions as “pleasant.” For his part, Solana spoke of a “very constructive dinner.”

When he arrived in Ankara, Larjiani said he expected "new ideas" from the senior EU official rejecting once again all demands that Tehran freeze its uranium enrichment programme as requested by the UN Security Council.

Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the ‘Five plus One’ group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom—plus Germany) is considering a gradual end to enrichment without dismantling the already existing 3,000 centrifuges in exchange for a freeze on new sanctions and an offer of trade incentives.

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See also
IAEA delegation in Tehran today
Iran accused of using Hezbollah to support Iraqi insurgency
Iranian reaction to six-power offer "positive"
Skeptics in Vienna doubt deal on Iranian nuclear programme
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