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Iran, EU ‘probably’ to meet September 6 in Vienna: diplomats

Iran, EU 'probably' to meet September 6 in Vienna: diplomatsAgence France Presse, Vienna – EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will probably meet Wednesday in Vienna, diplomats told AFP.

"They will most probably meet in Vienna Wednesday," said a diplomat close to the Iranians, adding that the two men might also meet with UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

"The Vienna weather is fine and this is the headquarters of the (International Atomic Energy Agency), so why not Vienna?" the diplomat said.

IAEA officials were not able to confirm the meeting. EU officials have said only that Solana was seeking a meeting with Larijani this week somewhere in Europe.

Other diplomats said that Brussels was also a possibility for the Solana-Larijani meeting.

The meeting had originally been scheduled for Wednesday in Berlin, a day ahead of a meeting there Thursday of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, the six powers trying to strike a deal with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

But those countries had ruled out meeting in Berlin with Iran, and one diplomat said the Iranians wanted to avoid holding their meeting in the same city in order to avoid looking as if they were snubbed.

The six powers have called on Iran to suspend strategic nuclear fuel work but Iran refuses to do this.

The IAEA reported last week that Iran has failed to honor a United Nations demand for Iran to suspend such work, namely uranium enrichment, in a move that opens the door to UN Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The United States has begun working toward sanctions, but since Iran offered new talks on its nuclear programme, veto-holding Security Council members Russia and China appear to have softened their stance in Tehran’s favour.

"Russia is already saying that they will not support anything at the UN Security Council until after" a meeting between Solana and Larijani that will attempt to re-start negotiations, a Western diplomat said.

The European Union said at a foreign ministers meeting in Finland Saturday that it would give Iran extra time to show it was serious about negotiating over its contested nuclear activities but warned the Western bloc expected a clear response.

Solana’s talks with Larijani are meant to clarify sections of a 21-page Iranian reponse to an incentives deal, which also includes an offer to relaunch talks. Diplomats have suggested the text is, at best, unclear.

EU foreign ministers are due to meet again on September 15 to discuss developments.