IAEA says it could visit Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in days

A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo

VIENNA, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog will visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine within days if talks to gain access succeed, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of firing at the Zaporizhzhia facility, which pro-Moscow forces took over soon after the Feb. 24 invasion. The United Nations has called for the area to be demilitarised.

"I'm continuing to consult very actively and intensively with all parties," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement.

"The mission (to Zaporizhzhia) is expected to take place within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed."

Russia's foreign ministry said Moscow had given the go-ahead for a mission on June 3 and blamed Kyiv for trying to disrupt the promised inspection.

"We express our deep regret that the mission has not yet taken place," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Reporting by Francois Murphy and David Ljunggren; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

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