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Iran says nuclear talks to resume next month

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday that talks with world powers on reaching a long-term nuclear deal will resume next month.

TEHRAN: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday that talks with world powers on reaching a long-term nuclear deal will resume next month.

An interim six-month accord with the so-called P5+1 -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany -- was agreed in November and took effect on Monday.

That deal requires that Tehran freeze or curb its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for some sanctions relief while the two sides try to reach a comprehensive agreement.

Zarif said he had agreed with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton "to hold the first meeting of Iran and (the) P5+1 at the end of (the) Iranian month of Bahman" which ends on February 19.

"We wanted to hold the meeting earlier but our Chinese friends were not ready due to holidays of their new year" on January 31, he wrote on his Facebook page

Zarif, who is at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, did not say where the talks would be held, or when the resumption was agreed with Ashton, who represents the P5+1 in the negotiations.

Under the interim agreement reached in Geneva, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.

Medium-enriched uranium is of particular concern to the international community since it can easily be purified to weapons-grade levels.

In return for curtailing its enrichment activities, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

The West and Israel suspect Iran's nuclear ambitions include developing a military capability, an allegation denied by Tehran, which says its atomic activities are entirely peaceful.

Neither the United States nor its staunch Middle East ally Israel -- widely assumed to be the region's sole nuclear-armed power -- have ruled out military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.

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