Iran, IAEA officials to meet in Teheran ahead of March nuclear deadline

ANKARA (REUTERS) - Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog will hold talks in Teheran on Monday, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported, ahead of a March deadline for a framework agreement on Iran's nuclear programme between Teheran and six major powers.

"Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will discuss remaining issues like explosives testing and neutron calculations," ISNA said, without giving a source. "Issues alleged by the IAEA, related to the framework agreement, will be discussed during their one day visit."

The IAEA says Iran has still not addressed specific issues that could feed suspicions it may have researched an atomic bomb, including questions on alleged research activities into explosives testing and neutron calculations.

Iran has rejected the accusations as baseless, but has promised to work with the IAEA as part of its efforts to end the country's decade-long nuclear standoff with the West.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet on March 15 in Switzerland, an Iranian official told Reuters. "Then there will be bilateral and trilateral meetings with other members of the P5+1 countries ... followed by meetings between the seven countries," said the official, adding that the venue will probably be in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Iran, the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain are trying to seal some form of understanding by the end of March before a final deal in June.

The negotiations are aimed at persuading Iran to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Iran denies any intention of seeking atomic weapons, saying its nuclear energy program is solely for peaceful purposes.