AFP: Substantive talks on a nuclear, political and trade cooperation pact between Iran and the European Union will begin next week with a ministerial meeting in Brussels, an Iranian official said Friday. "After an agreement at the ministerial level, I believe we can start the working groups immediately on December 14 or 15," said Hossein Moussavian, an aid to Iran's nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani. AFP

TEHRAN - Substantive talks on a nuclear, political and trade cooperation pact between Iran and the European Union will begin next week with a ministerial meeting in Brussels, an Iranian official said Friday.

"After an agreement at the ministerial level, I believe we can start the working groups immediately on December 14 or 15," said Hossein Moussavian, an aid to Iran's nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani.

On Monday, Rowhani is to meet the British, French and German foreign ministers in a steering committee conference to discuss Tehran's agreement to freeze sensitive nuclear work, on the sidelines of an EU ministerial gathering.

Last week the UN nuclear watchdog decided against referring Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions after Tehran agreed with the three EU states to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran accepted the deal amid US threats to send the matter to the Security Council in New York. Washington alleges that the Islamic republic is secretly developing nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.

In return for the suspension, the European Union is offering Iran a package of incentives on trade, security and technology -- due to be hammered out in more detail in the working groups.

Of Monday's talks, Moussavian said: "We will discuss the content and framework of the working groups on economic, political, nuclear and security cooperation," which were "supposed to reach an agreement".

Iran has insisted that its suspension of uranium enrichment was provisional and voluntary to allow negotiations on an agreement to take root.

"We agreed (to the suspension) for a period of several months, time to begin an appraisal," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assafi was quoted as saying by the student ISNA news agency on Friday.

Much would depend on the Europeans and whether they kept their promises, he said.

If the Europeans "honestly" stick to their commitments, "we will respect ours and establish a lasting trust. That is the direction we are going in."

A European source has said the Iranians requested the first meeting of the steering committee -- overseeing the working groups and the agreement -- to be held at the ministerial level to give it "better visibility".

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was likely to attend Monday's session.

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