Iran hopes for IAEA 'agreement' on Amano visit

TEHRAN - Iran hopes a visit by the UN nuclear watchdog chief on Monday will lead to an accord on how to resolve disputes on monitoring its nuclear activities, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in media reports.

Salehi said Yukiya Amano's first visit since taking up the post in 2009 was a "good omen" and presented an opportunity to reset talks with the International Atomic Energy Organisation, Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper reported.

"The focus of the visit will be on the issue of modality. We hope the two sides can reach an agreement and draw up a new modality to answer (IAEA) questions and clear up ambiguities," Salehi said.

The IAEA head, due in Tehran along with its chief inspector Herman Nackaerts and number two Rafael Mariano Grossi, is expected to meet Iran's atomic chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Salehi.

Amano's visit comes ahead of crucial talks between Iran and world powers next week in Baghdad on the disputed nuclear programme.

Most of Iran's nuclear activities are monitored by the IAEA, which has maintained for several years doubts over a possible military dimension to the Islamic republic's atomic work due to an alleged lack of cooperation.

Insisting its programme is purely civilian, Iran insists it fully cooperates with the agency and has accused the Vienna-based IAEA of being manipulated by Western intelligence services.

Tehran has also repeatedly denounced what it calls the "biased" and "political" actions of Amano when dealing with Iran.

Amano's visit follows two days of "positive" talks between Iran and the IAEA last week in Vienna, reopening dialogue after two fruitless visits by IAEA experts to Tehran in January and February.

The IAEA said Iran at the time denied its inspectors access to a military base at Parchin near Tehran, where the agency believes suspicious explosives testing took place in a large metal container.

Western countries have accused Iran of removing evidence at the site, while Amano has said satellite imagery showed unspecified activity.

Iran has rejected any accusations of a clean-up and says it is under no obligation to grant the IAEA access to the site because it is not a declared nuclear facility.

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