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New round of Iran nuke talks confirmed

Feb. 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

BRUSSELS, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Iran has formally agreed to meet with the so-called E3+3 group about its nuclear program, a European Union official confirmed Tuesday.

"Helga Schmid, deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service, agreed today with Dr. Ali Bagheri, deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, that the next round of talks between the E3+3 and Iran on Iran's nuclear program will take place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Feb. 26," a representative of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said in a statement released in Brussels.

"The high representative would like to thank the government of Kazakhstan for its generous offer to host the talks.

"She hopes that the talks will be productive and that concrete progress can be made towards a negotiated solution to meet the international community's concerns about the Iranian nuclear program."

The E3+3 includes France, Germany, Britain, the United States Russia and China.

The Washington Post reported the negotiations were put in place months ago but were waylaid by suspected in-fighting between Iranian leaders about whether to accept any international constraints on its nuclear program.

The government in Tehran has publicly stated its enrichment facilities are meant only for domestic energy production in the oil-rich country, though Western allies and Israel have long accused Iran of trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Though neither nation has confirmed it, the Post said back-channel negotiations between U.S. and Iranian diplomats have yielded the prospect of bilateral talks between the two nations sometime in the future.

Privately, diplomats expressed deep reservations about the result of the multinational talks, the Post said. Little has changed since Iran flatly rejected proposal in June by the United States to freeze some of Iran's most sensitive nuclear production facilities in exchange for future relief from tough international sanctions. Iran has demanded the international community recognize its right to domestically produce nuclear material for peaceful purposes, a admission the West has refused to make.

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