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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 22:16 GMT 23:16 UK
Iran continues nuclear defiance
Ali Larijani (left) and Javier Solana in Madrid on 31 May 2007
Dr Larijani said he and Mr Solana had exchanged useful ideas
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator has reiterated his country's refusal to suspend its nuclear programme after talks with EU officials in Madrid.

Ali Larijani said he found the idea of suspension "obsolete" after meeting the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

Nevertheless, both men said the talks had been constructive and that they had agreed to meet again in two weeks.

Iran is under pressure from the EU and US to suspend its nuclear programme and uranium enrichment activities.

They accuse the Islamic Republic of seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and is solely aimed at producing civilian nuclear power.

'Advances'

After the four-hour talks, Dr Larijani said he and Mr Solana had exchanged useful ideas but that the idea of suspending Iran's nuclear programme was out of the question.

The technical people... would find the idea of suspension obsolete
Ali Larijani

"We have abandoned the issue, why don't the media abandon this issue?" he asked.

"The technical people, in view of the developments in Iran's nuclear programme, would find the idea of suspension obsolete."

Mr Solana said there had been a "good, positive atmosphere" during the discussions, but admitted the two had failed to make significant ground.

"I think we can say that there was no fundamental breakthrough, but we made advances on some important issues," he told reporters.

"What is important is that we are going to continue working at a more intense rhythm than we have had in the past few months," he added.

Mr Solana said he would now seek a "new impetus for negotiations" and that he and Dr Larijani had agreed to meet in a fortnight.

Tactics

Earlier, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Iran to change its tactics and suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

Natanz, Iran
Natanz uranium enrichment plant

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Ms Rice said Washington was ready for wide-ranging talks with Tehran if it complied.

"But that can't be done when Iran continues to pursue, to try to perfect technologies that are going to lead to a nuclear weapon," she warned.

Last week, the US said it would press for a new set of sanctions to be imposed on Iran if continued to enrich uranium.

It followed a warning by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Tehran was stepping up enrichment and obstructing inspections.

The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on Iran in December for rejecting its demands, renewing them in March.

Foreign ministers from the G8 have said they are prepared to back "appropriate measures" if Iran fails to compromise.


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