Iran Nuclear NewsEU's Solana, Iran negotiator in nuclear contact

EU’s Solana, Iran negotiator in nuclear contact

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Reuters: European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana discussed prospects for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani in a telephone call shortly before Iran freed 15 captured British navy personnel, an EU official said on Thursday. BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana discussed prospects for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani in a telephone call shortly before Iran freed 15 captured British navy personnel, an EU official said on Thursday.

He said Solana raised the detention of the British sailors, whose release on Wednesday had not yet been announced, as well as the standoff over Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts, which the West believes are aimed at making nuclear weapons.

“The contents are confidential, but I can say they discussed the nuclear file and the possibility of getting back to negotiations,” the official said, adding that contacts remained open and another telephone call was likely soon.

The official dismissed any idea of a trade-off between the release of the captives and a resumption of nuclear talks, which the United Nations has made conditional on Iran suspending sensitive nuclear work including enrichment.

He said Solana’s communication channel with Larijani, who is secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, had never been broken off after talks on a package of Western incentives failed to induce Tehran to halt enrichment last year.

EU officials were watching the 13-day crisis closely to see whether it strengthened the hand of Larijani, regarded as a pragmatist more amenable to exploring a bargain with the West than hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadijenad.

The German presidency of the European Union welcomed the release of the British sailors in a statement connecting it with other outstanding disputes between Tehran and the West.

“The presidency hopes that Iran uses this opportunity to find solutions to other issues in cooperation with the international community and the European Union.

“This applies in particular to the proposal by the foreign ministers of China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States to resolve the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program through dialogue and negotiations,” it said.

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