EU confirms new Iran nuclear talks on Dec 17

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union confirmed Friday that talks between Iran and world powers on Teheran's nuclear programme will resume on Dec 17 in Geneva.

The talks, first announced in a report from Iran on Thursday, will be at the level of senior officials rather than ministers, the EU's diplomatic service said.

"The political directors of the (world powers) and Iran will meet again on 17 December 2014 in Geneva for a one-day meeting to continue diplomatic efforts towards reaching a long-term, comprehensive solution," it said in a statement.

The EU's external affairs arm said the talks would be technical, not political.

Accordingly, former EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who chaired the talks previously and now serves as special Iran adviser to her successor Federica Mogherini, will not attend the talks, a spokeswoman said.

Mogherini announced Friday that Ashton would continue to lead the negotiations with Iran so as to ensure continuity.

Despite making progress, the UN's five permanent Security Council members plus Germany and Iran failed to clinch a definitive deal by a November deadline at talks in Vienna and agreed to extend the talks until July 1.

A final agreement is aimed at ensuring Teheran will never develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian activities, and would lift international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

Iran denies that it is seeking the bomb and insists its nuclear activities are for solely peaceful purposes.