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Iran calls new EU sanctions "contradictory"

Iran expresses its surprise at the EU's expansion of sanctions against it claiming there was no indication that talks would come to an end

Reuters , Tuesday 24 May 2011
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Iran said on Tuesday that a new round of European Union sanctions against it was contradictory to the EU's stated desire to return to talks.

EU foreign ministers expanded sanctions on Monday, reflecting their frustration over a lack of progress in talks with Tehran over its nuclear programme.
"(Imposing) sanctions at the same time as talking about the pursuit of talks shows the contradiction between what the EU and the West claim and what they do," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference.

Two rounds of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany -- in Geneva in December and in Istanbul in January, did not reach any substantive result, but both sides have said they are in principle willing to resume talks under the right conditions.

World powers in March told Iran "the door remains open" for dialogue on its disputed nuclear program -- Tehran denies Western charges that it intends to develop a nuclear weapon -- and that Tehran must cooperate with the U.N. atomic agency to resolve concerns.
In the meantime, the United States and the EU have taken steps to increase sanctions pressure.

Mehmanparast said nothing new had happened in regard to the negotiations and that Iran "has not received any direct signals saying the process has hit a dead end".
"We have announced our readiness for talks based on a cooperative framework...and we hope the other party expresses its readiness according to the agreements we have made and based on a cooperative approach," he said.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed concern at the lack of progress earlier this month, saying messages she was receiving from Tehran about future meetings were disappointing. The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on the Islamic state since 2006 for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment programme, which Iran says has civilian purposes. 

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