Iran says will hold atomic talks with EU in November

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Thursday he will meet the European Union foreign policy chief on November 30 over the country’s atomic work, which the West fears is a cover to build an atomic bomb.

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The outcome of such a meeting between Iran’s Saeed Jalili and the EU’s Javier Solana could help determine whether Iran will face new sanctions over its nuclear program.

“Our talks with Mr. Solana will be in London on November 30,” Jalili told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs and says that if it succeeds it could threaten world peace. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and designed for electricity generation. It has consistently refused to heed U.N. demands to halt its nuclear work.

Jalili also said he was upbeat about talks with Solana.

“We are optimistic ... and we have a positive view about talks with Mr. Solana,” he said.

Solana is due to report on Iran’s readiness or otherwise to suspend uranium enrichment and enter into negotiations on its nuclear program before major powers take a decision on whether to impose further punitive measures on the Islamic Republic.

“I have new ideas which we are working on and we will certainly continue talks,” he said.

A meeting of governors at the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to consider on Thursday and Friday an Iranian plan to offer more transparency in its nuclear activities. The IAEA’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, is expected to urge backing for the plan.

The U.N. Security Council has passed two mild sanctions resolutions against Tehran since December. Washington is now pushing for more measures but Russia and China have been reluctant.

On Wednesday Javad Vaeedi, Jalili’s deputy, said he had agreed the November 30 meeting in a telephone conversation with a Solana aide. Solana’s spokeswoman had earlier denied another Iranian report, citing an unnamed source, they were scheduled to meet on November 26.

Jalili on Thursday insisted that Iran will not yield to pressure but was ready to resolve the Islamic state’s nuclear standoff with West diplomatically.

“They should abandon pressuring and threatening Iran and they should hold talks in a legal atmosphere. We are ready to remove misunderstandings and concerns,” Jalili said.

Washington says it is committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row, but has not ruled out military action if that fails.

“The Iranian nation will not give up its (nuclear) rights under pressure,” added Jalili.

Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, says it wants nuclear-generated electricity in order to free up more oil for export.