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Europe, Iran Discuss Nukes Issue, But No Progress


By Sonja Pace
London

Europe, Iran Discuss Nuclear Issue, No Progress Reported

Europe's top diplomat met in London Friday with Iran's main nuclear negotiator to discuss possible new initiatives in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The talks ended without progress.

The European Union's Javier Solana met with Iran's Saeed Jalili in London in an effort to persuade Iran to comply with international demands to freeze its uranium enrichment activities or face possible new sanctions.

Iran had indicated it would be presenting some "new initiatives," but the five-hour meeting ended without compromise.

Jalili described the talks as positive and said further negotiations would follow.

Solana had a different view. He said he had expected more and came away disappointed.

Iran insists it is exercising its right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful means. However, the United States and other Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Even as the talks got underway in London, the tone in Tehran remained adamant. Speaking at Friday prayers at Tehran University, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Iran remains determined to continue its nuclear program.

He said he hopes that after the London talks, those seeking to bully Iran will stop and instead opt for what he called a "correct approach."

That brought a chorus of "Death to America."

The United States has taken the lead in upping the pressure by pushing for a third round of sanctions against Tehran. The Bush administration continues to insist that while diplomacy is the preferred way to deal with the situation, all options are on the table.

Mr. Rafsanjani, who is also speaker of Iran's powerful Assembly of Experts, had a word of warning, clearly meant for Washington.

He said if the West wants to resolve the nuclear standoff, it can be done through negotiations. But he warned that those with other aims should know that their fate in Iran would be worse than in the countries they have already invaded, an apparent reference to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friday's talks in London came just one day ahead of a meeting in Paris of representatives from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. The talks are to focus on possible new sanctions against Iran.

ENDS

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