EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L), speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi (R) at the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, 7 January 2011. (AP)
The EU's foreign policy chief says Iran's invitation to visit its nuclear facilities is a welcome step, but the task should be carried out by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Catherine Ashton says the "role and responsibility" for inspecting Iran's nuclear sites belongs to the IAEA, an indication that the EU will not accept Iran's offer.
Iran recently invited Hungary, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, and several other countries, including Russia, China and Cuba but not the US, to tour its nuclear sites, suggesting 15-16 January for the trip.
There are suspicions that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons, but Tehran denies that.
Ashton spoke Friday after meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi.