Ashton hopes new talks to end Iran nuke program (REUTERS) Reporting By Sebastian Moffett; Editing by Andrew Osborn BRUSSELS, BELGIUM 05/11/12 9:01am EDT)
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(Reuters) - The European Union´s foreign policy chief said on Friday
she hoped upcoming talks with Iran would form the basis for Tehran to
eventually abandon its alleged nuclear weapons project.
Speaking ahead of talks scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad, Catherine
Ashton - who has been representing the major powers at talks about
Iran´s nuclear activity - said she had high hopes for the new round
"My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of
the nuclear weapons program in Iran," she told reporters in
Brussels. "I hope we´ll see the beginnings of success."
The West suspects Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but
Iran says its program is purely for peaceful purposes such as power
Negotiations over its alleged military program resumed in Turkey in
April after a 15-month hiatus, and are due to resume on May 23 in
Ashton said she would approach the talks as a "serious set of
discussions that can lead to concrete results".
Iran has said it wants sanctions introduced by the United States and
the EU to dissuade it from pushing ahead with its nuclear ambitions
to be scaled back.
But Western diplomats say Iran must first take concrete steps to ease
The sanctions have targeted Iran´s energy and banking sectors since
the beginning of this year, and the EU is preparing for a total
embargo on the purchase of Iranian crude oil in July.
Ashton represents the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain
and Germany in dealings with Iran.
She was speaking at a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign
Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, at which Iraq and the EU signed a framework
agreement on cooperation. This will provide for regular political
dialogue to boost trade and investment, as well as cooperation in
areas such as health, education and energy. (Reporting By Sebastian
Moffett; Editing by Andrew Osborn) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 05/11/12)
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