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Iran Says It Will Cooperate With IAEA, Continue Talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki
GENEVA (Reuters) -- Iran is ready to continue its cooperation with the United Nations atomic energy agency over its nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said today.

Mottaki told a news conference in Geneva there had been no diversion of his country's peaceful nuclear activities and that Tehran welcomed further negotiations with world powers.

"We have fully cooperated with the agency. This cooperation will continue," Mottaki said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency whose board met in Vienna today.

"We have always welcomed and encouraged negotiations and talks," he said.

Iran was still having negotiations with different parties on the issue of an exchange of nuclear fuel, Mottaki said.

"The issue of swap, it is possible to be carried out. The agreement could be made now, but the realization, the fulfilment of the swap needs time," he said, speaking in Farsi through an interpreter.

In a letter to the IAEA last week, its first official reply to an IAEA-brokered fuel swap proposal, Iran said it would prefer simply to buy the fuel but would accept a simultaneous exchange on its territory.

That would be unacceptable to the United States and European allies, which hope to get new sanctions imposed in the coming weeks after failing to reach agreement on the fuel exchange.

Western countries fear Iran wants to stockpile uranium to enrich it to levels that could be used for nuclear weapons. Iran says its sole aim is to run nuclear energy plants to generate electricity and produce isotopes for medicine or agriculture.

Last month Iran announced a start to higher-scale enrichment that would refine uranium to 20 percent purity -- the level needed for conversion into fuel plates for its Tehran research reactor, which makes isotopes for cancer patients.