• Kyodo

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Japan on Sunday strongly urged Iran to abandon its uranium conversion program and promptly resume negotiations with the three EU members dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue, a Japanese official said.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura made the requests to Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in talks at a New York hotel.

But Mottaki claimed Iran’s program is not intended for creating nuclear arms but only for peaceful use, and complained that his country has not received a positive response, even though it has been willing to cooperate in resolving the matter, the official said.

Iran has been negotiating the issue with Britain, France and Germany, which are referred to as the EU-3.

The meeting between Machimura and Mottaki was the first full-fledged contact between Cabinet ministers from the two countries since the administration of hardline conservative Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in August.

Mottaki, who formerly served as Iran’s ambassador to Japan, expressed hope for more integrated ties between the two countries, going beyond trade to include investment and other exchanges, and invited Machimura to visit Iran at an early date.

Machimura responded that he hopes to arrange such a trip, the Japanese official said.

Uranium conversion is seen as a step that precedes uranium enrichment for creating nuclear weapons.

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