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Iran: EU ignores request for early nuclear talks

Iran's state TV reported Tuesday that the European Union had ignored a request for preparatory talks before key nuclear negotiations later this month, but an EU spokeswoman denied that was the case.

The report said Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri had sent two letters requesting talks to Helga Schmid, a representative for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Such talks would come in advance of negotiations between Iran and six world powers set for Moscow starting June 17.

The report said Bagheri had sent the letters late May and June 4, and the EU had not answered. It says he insisted on the need to prepare an agenda for the talks in Moscow.

Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokeswoman said late Tuesday that the EU had replied to Bagheri.

"Engagement on substance is key, not the process," Kocijancic said. She added that Ashton would take up the issue directly with her Iranian counterpart.

The West suspects Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons technology, a charge Tehran denies.