"We will continue on this path," AFP quoted the EU's Javier Solana as saying after the four-hour talks in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 23. He said he and Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani would meet again in three weeks, but did not say where.
Larijani said the talks in Portugal "helped us to make progress toward negotiations and to clarify our positions," the French new agency reported. "I think it is possible to lay the ground for negotiations," Larijani added.
Solana and Larijani's meeting was their second in less than a month and followed talks between Larijani and International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei on June 22.
During their talks in Vienna, el-Baradei and Larijani agreed to draw up a plan on how to resolve questions about Iran's nuclear program within two months.
The program has placed Iran at odds with the West, which fears that Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons. Iran counters that its nuclear program is intended only for civilian purposes only.
Solana welcomed Iran's recent cooperation with the IAEA. "I hope very much that that cooperation between Iran and the [IAEA]...will contribute also to create a climate that will allow us to continue our contact," he said in Lisbon. "We will do the utmost to cooperate in that direction."
Larijani, for his part, said he looks forward to resolving the dispute through negotiation.
But the talks were held under the shadow of reports that United States and the United Kingdom were preparing proposals to strengthen current UN sanctions against Iran if no progress was seen.
The two countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, which has repeatedly ordered Iran to halt its uranium-enrichment program.
Referring to the prospect of more sanctions, Larijani told reporters after his talks with Solana that they could harm the negotiation process.
"If some adventure-seeking countries want to interrupt the process of diplomacy, this may have some effects," Larijani said. "I think that for the big powers the prevalence of tranquillity would be more important."