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EU-Iran Edging Closer To Agreement?
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Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana continued their talks on Thursday after their initial discussions proved fruitless on Wednesday night.

Speaking to reporters after a second round of talks on Thursday morning, Larijani made a similar comment, saying that all the topics had been discussed and there had been "some positive outcomes" but neither man volunteered any further details.

"We hope to be able to embark on the main negotiations as soon as possible," Larijani said. Larijani is also expected to meet German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier later in the day.

"This meeting forms part of our effort to find a diplomatic solution in the conflict over Iran's nuclear program," said German Foreign Office spokesman Martin Jaeger earlier on Wednesday.

Talks between the two men are seen as Iran's last chance to agree to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had a telephone call with Solana before the meeting started.

"Obviously, if we can come out of this with an Iranian decision to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, completely and verifiably, then we would be on course for negotiations and that is the course we would all like to pursue," she told reporters, adding that she "did wish Javier Solana luck and we are all awaiting the outcome of his discussion."

If the talks should fail, Iran may face sanctions from the UN Security Council. Previous efforts have involved the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany urging Iran to accept a package of incentives for halting its enrichment activities.

However, the demand was rejected by Iran. In Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's hard-line at a seminar on Wednesday saying that Iran would "not back down" on its nuclear rights.

The UN Security Council originally set an August 31 deadline for Iran to halt enrichment which Teheran ignored. The six powers then agreed to give Solana until early October to reach a deal.

(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)

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