Sunday, June 26, 2005

EU concerned for Iran nuclear talks after election

The European Union has reacted nervously to Iran president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amid fears he may resist international efforts to check the country's nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad, a hardline conservative, has insisted that Iran will not give up its nuclear technology, but said he would continue talks with the EU aimed at ensuring any nuclear program is purely peaceful.

Franco Frattini, European commissioner for justice and security issues, said the EU could "freeze" talks with Iran unless Ahmadinejad makes an clear commitment to continue discussions with the bloc's three biggest countries on the nuclear issue.

"The reformists have suffered a worrying defeat," said Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister who is in charge of mostly internal issues and not the EU's external relations.

"From the new President Ahmadinejad we are waiting for clear words on human rights and the nuclear issue. But if the replies are negative, the European Union will have no choice but to freeze dialogue with Iran," Frattini told Italy's La Repubblica daily.

Later on Sunday, in his first news conference since winning Friday's presidential election, Ahmadinejad said he intended to keep talking with Europe.

"With preserving national interests and by emphasising the right of the Iranian nation for using peaceful nuclear technology, we will continue the talks," he said.

Iran needed nuclear technology "for energy and medical purposes" he said. "We shall carry on with it."

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