The chief of the UN's nuclear watchdog has begun talks with officials in Tehran in a bid to strike a deal on access to Iran's nuclear facilities. His visit comes ahead of a seven-way international meeting in Baghdad.
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Monday began talks with officials in Tehran on a key mission that aims to achieve a resumption of international probes into Iran's atomic program.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano met the head of Iran's nuclear energy organization, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, shortly after his pre-dawn arrival, according to the ISNA news agency.
On his first trip to Iran since taking office in 2009, Amano is also due to meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday.
The one-day visit is focused on persuading Tehran to agree to terms allowing IAEA probes of sites where the West suspects atomic weapons research is taking place. These include the Parchin military complex.
Senior IAEA teams visiting Tehran in January and February were denied permission to inspect the site southeast of the capital. The agency has reported suspicious activities there in the past.
Asked about his chances of success ahead of the visit, Amano told reporters in Vienna: "Nothing is certain in life, in diplomacy. But there has been good progress."
"I really think this is the right time to reach agreement," he added.
Foreign Minister Salehi was quoted on Sunday as calling Amano's visit a "good omen."
Amano's visit comes two days before Iranian nuclear negotiators are to hold talks about its atomic program in Iraq with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
The six world powers are spearheading efforts to convince Tehran to curb its nuclear program and provide evidence it is not working on nuclear weapons. The US and the European Union have stepped up sanctions on Iran's energy exports, and Washington has threatened military action if Iran refuses to comply with Western demands for transparency.
Iraninsists its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes and denies secretly developing atomic arms.
tj/mz (AP, Reuters)