Iran and EU representatives to meet for nuclear talks

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, will meet in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday for a new round of talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, state television reported today.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, will meet in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday for a new round of talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, state television reported today.

"Larijani and Solana will meet for a new round of talks in Lisbon on Saturday," the television quoted a statement from Iran's Supreme National Security Council as saying today.

The council handles Iran's nuclear dossier with the outside world.

The statement said the talks would be a follow-up to discussions held last month in Madrid between the two top officials.

The main purpose of the last set of Iran-EU talks was to find a way to bridge the impasse over Iran's rejection of UN Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment.

The enrichment process can produce fuel for civilian energy or fissile material for a bomb, depending on the level of enrichment.

The United States and some of its allies fear that Iran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity.

During their last meeting, Larijani told Solana that Iran was ready to remove ambiguities related to its nuclear activities, but a senior Iranian envoy recently cancelled talks with the UN's nuclear watchdog, dashing hopes that Tehran is ready to change its behaviour.

The US has refused to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear programme unless it first suspends uranium enrichment - a demand Tehran has rejected.

Iran says it is too late to stop Iran's nuclear programme because it has already achieved proficiency in the cycle of nuclear fuel - from extracting uranium ore to enriching it.

Tehran has vowed it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

The UN Security Council voted to impose new sanctions on Iran in March as part of a second set of penalties against Tehran over its refusal to suspend enrichment.

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