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EU's Ashton urges quick resumption of Iran nuclear talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday called for the resumption "as soon as possible" of talks between global powers and Iran on its contested nuclear programme.

Ashton hosted talks between political directors from the so-called P5+1 group that has been negotiating with Iran and which is made up of the five permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Rusia and the United States plus Germany.

"We met to consider our position and to look at how best we can move forward in trying to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," Ashton said in a video statement.

"Of course we wait now for the team to be appointed by Iran. We very much hope that will be soon and we look forward to meeting with them as soon as possible," she said.

It was the first such meeting since Hassan Rowhani was declared Iran's new president in June.

Western powers believe the programme is being used to develop an atomic bomb, but Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes.

Ashton met Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul in May for talks he described as "long and useful" that followed fruitless discussions the previous month in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Iran's moderate president-elect vowed in June to implement a policy of "constructive interaction" with world powers to build trust and diffuse tensions, exacerbated over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"Moderation in foreign policy means neither surrender nor confrontation but constructive and efficacious interaction with the world," Rowhani said in his first live televised remarks since his election on June 14.

"In moderation, a balance must be achieved between realism and idealism," he said.

Iran is at odds with world powers both over its nuclear activities and support for the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rowhani did not mention either issue directly but said he would move to build trust and ease tensions after taking office on August 3.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130716/eus-ashton-urges-quick-resumption-iran-nuclear-talks