'Iran to boycott Middle East nuclear talks,' says envoy

November 18, 2011 19:17

VIENNA - Iran will not take part in rare IAEA-hosted talks next week for countries in the Middle East to discuss efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons, a senior Iranian official said on Friday, in a further sign of worsening ties between the UN atomic agency and Iran.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the statement after the 35-nation board of the IAEA adopted a resolution rebuking Tehran over its nuclear program. Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear bomb.

Soltanieh lashed out at IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, who convened the November 21-22 talks in Vienna for Middle Eastern states, as "not professional" and said he did not believe the meeting would be "fruitful."

Iran "will not participate," he told reporters. Israel and Arab states are expected to attend the forum.

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