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EU says no date for Iran talks, hopes for next round soon

Jan. 4, 2013 1:56 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2013 7:38 P.M.)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- The European Union says no date has been fixed for further talks on Iran's nuclear program, while hoping they will be soon, an EU foreign affairs spokesman said.

He was reacting to comments from Iran's top nuclear negotiator, who said earlier on Friday the country had agreed to hold talks in January with the six major powers - represented by the EU - about its atomic program.

Saeed Jalili, Iran's national security council secretary, said in India that Iran had "accepted that these talks should be held in January, but until now, the details have not been finalized". He was speaking through a translator.

However, the EU spokesman would not say whether the powers had agreed to further talks with Iran.

Discussions on a date and venue are still ongoing, said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who leads negotiations on behalf of the six powers - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and China.

"Senior officials from the EU and Iran spoke on Dec. 31 to discuss the next round of negotiations, which we hope will happen soon," Mann said in an emailed response to a query from Reuters.

The six powers are trying to use a mix of diplomacy and sanctions to rein in Iran's uranium enrichment program, which they want to ensure is aimed only at civilian purposes, such as energy.

Iran denies Western assertions that it is seeking nuclear weapons capability.

The powers have failed to achieve a breakthrough in three rounds of talks since April. But neither side has been willing to break off totally, partly because of concern this could lead to war if Israel attacked its arch-foe.
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