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Iran Invites Nuclear Watchdog to Tehran

Asked what Solana considered reasonable, the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential, told The Associated Press: "Weeks _ and not very many."

Iran has said before that it was ready to cooperate with the IAEA on the issue of unexplained past activities but has yet to deliver.

Still, a diplomat familiar with Iran's nuclear file described the offer as "the first break in the (nuclear) stalemate in months." The diplomat also spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential.

The unanswered questions include: traces of enriched uranium at a facility linked to the military _ a possible sign of a hidden weapons program _ and possession of documents showing how to mold uranium metal into the form of missile warheads.

Multilateral talks with Iran broke off in August 2005 after Tehran rejected an offer of political and economic incentives in exchange for long-term enrichment suspension.

Since then, Iran has repeatedly said an enrichment freeze was out of the question, while the six world powers insisted they would accept nothing less as before resuming negotiations.

But there are recent indications of potential differences on the enrichment issue. U.S. and European diplomats and government employees told the AP last week that Britain, France and Germany are informally debating the possibility of a partial freeze.

With permanent members Russia and China only reluctantly backing sanctions, any loss of European support for a full freeze would leave Washington with the hard choice of either backing down or being isolated.

Germany was supportive, France opposed and Britain noncommittal, the officials said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday dismissed as "chatter" discussions among U.S. allies about a new approach.

But an American official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential, told the AP "there is some truth" to the reports. And the European diplomat said that any serious attempt by Iran to answer outstanding questions "will have an impact" on the enrichment issue.


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