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EU berates Iran on rights before nuclear talks

Written by Staff Writer on .

ImageReuters, BRUSSELS - The European Union today accused Iran of persistent and grave human rights failings in a toughly worded statement issued on the eve of new talks on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Alleging abuses ranging from media censorship through to child executions, the EU said its three-year dialogue with Iran on human rights had stalled with little to show for it.

''The EU is deeply concerned that the human rights situation in Iran has not improved in any significant respect in recent years, and in many respects has worsened,'' it said.

Citing a catalogue of alleged abuses in Iran, the EU said there were reports of torture, concerns over the treatment of minorities and the death penalty was frequent for minor crimes.

''Iran executed more child offenders in 2005 than in any recent year,'' it said in a statement released by Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation bloc.

The criticism came a day before Britain, France and Germany hold fresh talks with Iran in Vienna over Western demands it stop activities that could lead to making an atom bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful.

EU diplomats say the prospects for progress at the talks have not been helped by recent outbursts by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has denied the Holocaust and suggested Israel be moved to Germany or Alaska.

One EU diplomat characterised tomorrow's meeting as ''exploratory talks'' and said the outcome would be a decision on whether or not to meet again in January.

The EU diplomat said the so-called EU3 of Paris, London and Berlin would reiterate statements about the importance of Iran suspending their use of sensitive nuclear energy.