Iran General NewsItalian PM favours more talks with Iran

Italian PM favours more talks with Iran

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AFP: Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called on Sunday for further talks with Iran over its contested nuclear programme, in a speech in the United Arab Emirates. ABU DHABI (AFP) — Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called on Sunday for further talks with Iran over its contested nuclear programme, in a speech in the United Arab Emirates.

“We have to negotiate with Iran,” Prodi, who arrived in the UAE late on Saturday, told the Federal National Council, a body that advises the government of the oil-rich country facing Iran across the Gulf.

“Negotiations (must be) based on two principles — the right of Iran to develop a nuclear programme and also the right of the international community to make sure effectively about the peaceful nature of the project in Iran,” said Prodi, whose remarks in Italian were translated into Arabic and English.

Prodi said he could “understand the security fears of Israel” over Iranian comments about the Jewish state, and he called on Tehran to pursue cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a “transparent” manner.

The Italian premier said his country backs a suggestion by pro-Western Gulf states to create a multinational consortium to provide enriched uranium to Iran as a way of resolving Tehran’s standoff with the West.

Prodi was due to go from Abu Dhabi to the booming UAE emirate of Dubai later on Sunday.

Turning to Lebanon, which has been without a president since Syrian-backed Emile Lahoud left office on Friday with no successor in place, Prodi urged rival factions to quickly elect a new head of state in order to resolve the political crisis “jeopardising construction prospects.”

Lebanon’s stability is “an essential and necessary condition for stability in the region,” he said.

Prodi expressed hope that a US-sponsored conference opening on Tuesday with the aim of reviving stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, will “launch concrete negotiations for a settlement … guaranteeing the Palestinian people an independent state that coexists with Israel in peace and security.”

He called for boosting ties between Italy and the UAE and expanding them to sectors “other than energy.”

Prodi said relations were likely to benefit from a free trade agreement which the European Union has been negotiating for several years with the six Gulf Cooperation Council states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE — but which has so far eluded the two sides.

Prodi also met UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan during his visit to Abu Dhabi, the official WAM news agency reported.

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