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European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana insisted Friday that he was making progress in talks to persuade Iran to bring its nuclear program into line with international demands.
"We are really making progress," Solana told reporters. "Never before have we had the level of engagement, and a level of discussion of issues which are difficult as we are having now."
He said he hoped for a new meeting with Iran's top negotiator Ali Larijani in the coming days. Solana said lower level talks had been going on daily since Sunday, when he and Larijani last met in Vienna, Austria.
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"The atmosphere is good," Solana said. "We don't want to lose the momentum that was created in Vienna."
Officials in delegations familiar with the outcome of Sunday's talks said this week that Larijani had suggested his country was ready to consider an enrichment freeze for up to two months.
Still, they said the Iranian suggestion fell short of a demands issued by the UN Security Council's five permanent members and Germany that such a freeze be imposed before any talks begin on further de-escalation of the nuclear standoff.
Solana suggested a solution could be found by starting negotiations starting at the same time as Iran announces a suspension.
"It can be done simultaneously, there are many ways we can do it," Solana said. "But we will not negotiate formally with activity on enrichment, that is something that is understandable by everybody, that is understood also by the Iranians."
Solana did not confirm that the Iranians were talking about a freeze, but French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei confirmed in Paris that Iran "has accepted to talk about the question of suspension."