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Iran

EU confirms date for fresh talks on Iran's nuclear program

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has confirmed Iran nuclear talks will begin in Vienna in February. It's hoped a deal will be struck to curb Iran's atomic program in exchange for reduced sanctions.

Following talks with Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on the sidelines of the Munich security conference, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (pictured above, centre) confirmed that talks on Iran's nuclear programme will begin in Vienna on February 18.

Six world powers, including the United States and Russia, have led years of negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to curb parts of its nuclear program in return for a gradual end to sanctions.

The West had repeatedly voiced concerns that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons, however, this had been constantly denied by Iran, which said its atomic program is for civilian purposes only.

Previous negotiations on Iran's nuclear ambitions

An interim deal struck in November between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany - known as P5+1 - took nearly two months of negotiations - an agreement was reached following three rounds of talks in Geneva.

Under the interim agreement, which is valid for six months, Iran would suspend its most sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for reduced sanctions imposed by the West, which are damaging its oil-reliant economy.

Last week, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was determined to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear deal to boost its ailing economy, and invited Western companies to seize investment opportunities.

lw/ng (AP, Reuters)

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