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Iran says new nuclear talks with EU possible soon

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and the European Union’s foreign policy chief may meet again in the next few days for talks on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

Iran’s Ali Larijani and the EU’s Javier Solana held exploratory talks on May 31 in Madrid, but the meeting yielded no breakthrough on the core dispute -- Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a condition for broader negotiations.

They agreed to meet again in two weeks, but without announcing a date and venue.

“We will possibly see Solana-Larijani talks in the next few days,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters at a regular briefing.

“Contacts are still going on for determining the exact time and place,” he said.

Iran says its program to produce nuclear fuel is solely for electricity generation but Western powers suspect it wants to build bombs. Two sets of U.N. sanctions have been imposed on Iran and a third round has been mooted by Washington and EU powers.

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Instead of halting enrichment, as the U.N. Security Council has ordered, Iran has rapidly extended its program.

On Thursday, chief U.N. monitor Mohamed ElBaradei urged Iran to stop expanding uranium enrichment to defuse a standoff he said could lead towards disastrous conflict.

ElBaradei said his compromise idea might pave the way towards a “double suspension” of enrichment and sanctions, enabling talks to take place on trade benefits for Tehran that have been offered by six world powers.

His proposal may anger Western leaders who have sponsored U.N. resolutions demanding Iran shut down enrichment completely, not just cease installing more centrifuge machines.