Iran General NewsEU's Solana open to meeting with Iran's Larijani

EU’s Solana open to meeting with Iran’s Larijani

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Reuters: EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Thursday he was open to meeting Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator at a security conference in Munich as the United States presses Europe to get tougher with Tehran. BRUSSELS, Jan 8 (Reuters) – EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Thursday he was open to meeting Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator at a security conference in Munich as the United States presses Europe to get tougher with Tehran.

Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani said on Wednesday he planned “negotiations” with Western officials at the Feb. 9-11 conference, in the first such contacts since the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme in December.

Tehran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment led to the breakdown in October of talks between Iran and world powers conducted by Solana.

The United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain had offered incentives to Iran to halt enrichment.

Solana told Reuters a meeting would depend on the timing of his and Larijani’s visits to Munich.

“If he is there at the same time I am there, then maybe there is the possibility of a short meeting. For the moment I have not agreed on anything as I don’t know what time I’ll be there and what time he will be there,” he said.

An EU diplomat said the two men did plan to meet. But he added that neither German Chancellor Angela Merkel, nor Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier would meet the Iranian — apart from informal chats on sidelines of dinners or other events.

Germany is the current holder of the presidency of the 27-nation European Union.

A spokeswoman for Solana said contacts had never been broken off between him and Larijani since their last face-to-face meeting in Berlin in September. She said they had spoken by telephone and communicated indirectly.

Larijani, who was quoted by Iran’s official IRNA news agency, did not say whom he would meet or what he would discuss.

He has previously said he will not meet U.S. officials, who insist they will only talk once Iran stops enriching uranium.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are also expected to attend the meeting.

The West accuses Iran of planning to build atomic bombs. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

Solana deflected criticism of Europe’s approach to the sanctions by Washington’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying: “We are complying with the resolution.”

The U.S. envoy, Gregory Schulte, praised the EU for swiftly implementing the U.N. resolution, which bans trade in nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology.

But he repeated U.S. warnings that Europeans could and should do more, including ending credits subsidising exports to Iran and taking other measures to discourage investment.

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