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Iran says to resume nuclear talks after forming new govt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iran said Wednesday it would resume talks with world powers on its controversial nuclear programme once president-elect Hassan Rowhani has been sworn in and a new negotiating team formed.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is negotiating with Iran on behalf of the so-called P5+1 group, on Tuesday urged Tehran to resume the talks "as soon as possible".

She made the comments after hosting talks in Brussels 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, Russia 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.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the ISNA news agency Wednesday as saying that talks would resume once a new negotiating team is named.

"The negotiations with the P5+1 will certainly continue," Salehi said. "We expect Rowhani to appoint a new team of negotiators," Salehi added.

Rowhani will take office on August 3, whereafter he will have three weeks to present his government to parliament which in turn has 10 days to review the credentials of his ministerial candidates.

Only after that is a negotiating team expected to be named.

In June, Rowhani, a moderate cleric, said his election to the presidency paved the way for a "constructive interaction" with the international community, although he avoided the topic of suspending uranium enrichment -- the key concern among Western countries and Israel.

In his first statement after his election, Rowhani called on world powers to treat Iran with respect and recognise its rights, an apparent allusion to the controversial nuclear programme.

Rowhani was previously in charge of the nuclear negotiations between 2003 and 2005. Since 2007 the Iranian negotiating team has been led by Saeed Jalili.

Despite its repeated denials, Iran is accused by the West and Israel of seeking to produce nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian atomic programme.

Iran has been slapped with international sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment which have hit its economy severely.

Israel is believed to be the sole but undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130717/iran-says-resume-nuclear-talks-after-forming-new-govt