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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
EU and Iran to hold nuclear talks
Arak heavy water production facility
Iran has pressed on with its nuclear efforts despite global concern
The European Union and Iran are to hold direct preliminary talks on Tehran's nuclear programme, the first since UN sanctions were imposed in March.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, on 25 April, to discuss a possible resumption of formal talks.

The EU wants Tehran to stop enriching uranium, but Iran has insisted on its right to a peaceful nuclear programme.

Some in the West fear Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Mr Larijani and Mr Solana spoke by telephone to arrange the talks next week, Iranian media reported.

The Iranian negotiator told his EU counterpart Iran was always ready for "constructive negotiations", the student news agency Isna quoted him as saying.

Tighter sanctions

A spokeswoman for Mr Solana said the talks next Wednesday would not be held in either Brussels or Tehran.

The pair last met face-to-face in February, but the UN Security Council has since then imposed tighter sanctions on Iran over its refusal to stop enrichment.

Sanctions were first imposed in December 2006, but Mr Solana has always insisted that the EU is seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue.

Iran has installed 1,312 centrifuges needed to enrich uranium gas at its Natanz plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said this week.

Iranian officials say they need 50,000 centrifuges to generate enough enriched uranium for power generation.

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