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News number: 8712201011

15:33 | 2009-03-10


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IAEA Chief Invites Iran's Arab Neighbors to Engage in N. Talks

TEHRAN (FNA)- Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei said that the dispute over Iranian nuclear program cannot be resolved without the engagement of Iran's Arab neighbors.

"I find it surprising that the Arab countries are not engaged in dialogue between Iran and the West. The neighbors so far have been sitting on the fence. Any solution to the Iranian issue has to engage the neighbors," ElBaradei said, addressing a foreign policy forum in Austria's parliament.

The IAEA chief stressed Iran's significant status in the Middle East security structure, and reiterated that all Arabs would be an indispensable part of any Middle East peace arrangement.

ElBaradei further reminded lack of security guarantees as Iran main concern, adding, "Iran could be a positive force in the region; it could also be a source of conflict and confrontation."

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Elsewhere, ElBaradei expressed hope that Iran-US talks would start in the next few weeks and the new US administration would make progress in resolving the international standoff surrounding Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

Reminding the need for direct negotiations between Tehran and Washington without any preconditions, the IAEA chief said the uranium enrichment suspension, laid by US as a precondition for holding talks in the past six years, was never materialized.

The UN nuclear official reiterated that settlement of Iran's nuclear issue is in need of further cooperation with the agency.