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UN nuclear chief to visit Iran for talks on 'issues of mutual interest'

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is to travel to Tehran on Sunday for talks with senior officials

Iran nuclear iaea BushehrEnlarge
The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 750 miles south of Tehran. (Majid Asgaripour/Getty Images)

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog is to travel to Iran on Sunday for talks with senior officials on “issues of mutual interest.”

In a surprise development, Yukiya Amano of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is scheduled to hold rare meetings in Tehran on Monday, two days before talks between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on the Gulf state’s disputed nuclear program resume in Baghdad, Reuters reports.

The six world powers are trying to persuade Tehran to slow down uranium enrichment and allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.

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In a statement released Friday, the IAEA said Amano “will travel to Tehran this Sunday… to discuss issues of mutual interest with high Iranian officials.” Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will be among the officials that Amano will meet with.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of developing a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes. The IAEA and Iran held talks this week in the Austrian capital over Iran's nuclear activities, and while the last set of talks in February ended in failure, Friday’s announcement is viewed as a sign that some progress might be possible, according to the BBC.

Diplomats told the Associated Press that Amano’s visit was scheduled to allow both sides to agree on an accord outlining the mechanics of IAEA access to sites, information and officials it seeks for its investigation into whether Tehran secretly conducted nuclear weapons research and development. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/120518/un-nuclear-chief-visit-iran-talks-issues-mutual-interest