BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union resumed trade talks with Iran on Wednesday, more than 18 months after they were frozen because of concerns over Tehran's nuclear program.
The EU agreed to reopen talks on a trade deal after Iran agreed last year to suspend uranium enrichment and related activities that had sparked fears it was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Parallel talks on political cooperation are due to start Thursday in which the EU wants to persuade the Iranians to give guarantees on human rights, regional security, terrorism and proliferation of mass destruction weapons.
An exiled Iranian opposition group condemned the talks.
"The human rights situation in Iran is rapidly deteriorating, renewed trade talks and deals with the mullahs' regime will be seen in Tehran as nothing but a green light to the inhuman mullahs to continue their atrocities," said Sahlin Gobadi, spokesman for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.
In a statement he accused the Iranian regime of preparing to resume a nuclear weapons program and of seeking to set up a satellite Islamic regime in Iraq.
EU officials said no breakthrough was expected at this week's talks, which would focus on setting out the agenda of further meetings. It is expected to take at least several months before the trade and political agreements are concluded.
Britain, Germany and France also launched separate talks last month to secure a permanent end to nuclear activities that could be used in bomb-making.
The EU is already Iran's main trading partner, with commerce between the two at about 10 billion (US$13.3 billion) last year.