Iran pledges 'new approach' to easing rift with UN atomic watchdog

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Iran's deputy foreign minister pledged on Monday a "new approach" to resolving United Nations. concerns about its nuclear programme, as he began talks on easing a deadlock over an investigation into suspicions of illicit nuclear bomb research by Teheran.

Mr Abbas Araqchi met UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano in Vienna, the first such high-level encounter since Iran's election in June of a moderate president committed to improving its foreign relations after years of increasing confrontation.

"It is very important for all of us that we can show concrete progress," Mr Amano said, sitting across a table from Mr Araqchi at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna.

"We think this is the time to take a new approach to resolving (questions) between Iran and the IAEA and look to the future for further cooperation in order to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme," Mr Araqchi said. He gave no details.

The IAEA hopes to resume an investigation, long stalled by Iranian non-cooperation, into what it calls the "possible military dimensions" of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme. Teheran says it is enriching uranium solely for electricity generation and medical treatments.

"It is peaceful and it will remain peaceful for ever," Mr Araqchi said.

New President Hassan Rouhani has raised hopes of an end to the international standoff over the nuclear programme by promising to engage with the West, in return for an easing of sanctions that are severely damaging Iran's oil-based economy.