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EU says no date set yet for Iran nuclear talks

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[January 31, 2014]  BRUSSELS / MOSCOW (Reuters)  Global powers and Iran are still discussing when and where to convene talks on a deal for Tehran to rein in its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, the European Union said on Friday, contradicting a Russian media report.

The Russian news agency Interfax had quoted Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Foreign Ministry's security and disarmament department, as saying earlier on Friday that an agreement had been reached to hold new talks on February 18 in New York.

Six world powers, including the United States and Russia, have led years of negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to curb parts of its nuclear program, which Western powers fear is aimed at creating atomic weapons capabilities. Iran denies this.

"Discussions on the timing and venue for the next round of talks with Iran are still ongoing. When a decision is taken, we will announce it," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

A November 24 interim deal between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany took nearly two months to clinch in three rounds of talks in Geneva last year.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week Iran is seeking a comprehensive agreement so it can develop its battered economy, inviting Western companies to seize opportunities now.

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Under the interim deal, which is valid for six months and can be renewed, Iran agreed to suspend its most sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for a limited easing of Western sanctions that are damaging its oil-reliant economy.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow and Justyna Pawlak in Brussels; writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Alistair Lyon)

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