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Germany, IAEA Chief Urge Iran to Halt Nuclear Program
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German leaders and Mohammed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), urged Iran on Monday to suspend its nuclear program as top diplomats will meet over the issue in Berlin on Thursday.

The foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States will meet in the German capital at the invitation of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier over the Iran nuclear issue, according to a report from the German news agency DPA.

Differences remain among the nations over the Iran nuclear issues. China and Russia are opposed to possible sanctions against Iran.

"We are not in a position today to say that (Iran's nuclear) program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," ElBaradei told reporters after meeting Steinmeier.

Germany, France and Britain were the three European Union nations which mediated the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program last year.

"I would like Iran to do what they can right now to lower our doubts ... until negotiations resume," said ElBaradei, who also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Steinmeier said: "Iran must suspend all enrichment work, including research."

In another development in Germany on Monday, police searched business sites across the country in connection with the illegal export of double-use equipment to Iran.

The German prosecutor's office in Potsdam near Berlin said that some 250 agents raided 41 companies in 10 German states last week after learning of suspicious purchase requests by a Berlin firm.

The firm which was run by Russians is believed to have exported hydraulic pumps and transformer parts, which could be used at nuclear facilities.

The firm delivered the equipment from Berlin to a company near Moscow, and from there to Iran.

Earlier this month, ElBaradei provided a report to the UN Security Council. The United States had argued that the report contains enough evidence to warrant action against Iran over its controversial uranium enrichment activities.

The report says the IAEA has no proof that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

As the United States and its allies accused Tehran of concealing an effort to develop atomic weapons, Iranian leaders insist that it has rights to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purpose.

Early last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the Iranian nation would stand firmly to "regain its rights" on peaceful nuclear technology.

"Today we announce with pride that the peaceful knowledge and technology are in our disposal ... The Iranian nation has stood firmly to regain its rights and will continue the path until their full restoration," Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad reiterated that the nuclear negotiations with the EU during the past two and a half years had imposed damages on Iran, urging the EU to compensate for the loss.

"I recommend to these few states to compensate the damage and apologize to the great Iranian nation for the issue, and they should know that Iranian nation's memory is very clear and sensitive and would bear all the events," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2006)

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