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Iran transfers nuclear talks to foreign ministry

September 5, 2013

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president confirmed Thursday that the foreign ministry will lead nuclear talks with world powers in a shift away from security officials setting Tehran’s strategies for the critical negotiations.

The report on the website of President Hasan Rouhani’s office gave the official stamp on a policy change first indicated last month after Rouhani’s inauguration.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a Western-educated diplomat, said members of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team have been selected, according to Tasnim, an Iranian news website. Zarif did not name the members of the team but said they are experts with extensive experience.

Zarif also said the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers will be held after the September U.N. General Assembly. He did not give a date or place for the talks but said he will meet with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine on the sidelines of the assembly.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council was previously in charge of nuclear dialogue with the U.S. and other nations. The talks have been on hold for months after deadlocks over Western efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.

“We reiterate our hope that the Iranian government will engage substantively with the international community to reach a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program and to cooperate fully with the IAEA in its investigation,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement after Rouhani’s announcement.

The West suspects Iran seeks to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying it only seeks reactors for energy generation and medical research.

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