U.N. nuclear agency chief to meet top Iran negotiator

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 24, 2013 6:16 PM
U.N. nuclear agency chief to meet top Iran negotiator

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. atomic agency chief and a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator will meet on Monday before a new round of talks over the Islamic state's disputed atomic activities, the agency said on Thursday.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi for about an hour at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters, it said.

"The meeting will provide an opportunity to exchange views on the way forward," the IAEA said in a statement.

It gave no details. The fact the Amano-Araqchi meeting appeared to be scheduled at short notice may be seen as a further sign of the new Iranian government's desire to try to end international deadlock over the country's nuclear program.

It will be followed by a new round of negotiations later the same day, also in Vienna, between senior officials from both sides over a stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran, which denies the charge.

Neither Amano nor Araqchi is due to take part in those previously scheduled talks, which will be the 12th such meeting since early 2012.

The IAEA-Iran talks have so far failed to yield a breakthrough deal that would allow the agency to resume its inquiry. But the election of relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president in June has raised hopes of a possible resolution to the nuclear dispute.

Araqchi played a key role in separate negotiations that resumed in Geneva last week between Iran and six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain - aimed at finding a diplomatic settlement. Those talks will continue in the same Swiss city on November 7-8.

The powers want Iran, which says its program is peaceful, to curb activity that can have both civilian and military purposes. The IAEA wants to gain access to sites, officials and documents in Iran for its investigation.

(This story has been fixed to correct the date for next rounds of talks in paragraph 5 and8)

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Peter Cooney)