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The delay comes in advance of the February 21 deadline set down by the UN Security Council for Iran to halt its nuclear work.

 

The IAEA is also due to issue a report on Friday on Iran's compliance with Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment.

 

Iran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that some Western countries fear could be used to make nuclear weapons rather than atomic fuel.

 

Instead, Larijani and other Iranian officials have suggested that Iran places a formal limit on the degree of its enrichment as a guarantee that it is not seeking an atomic bomb.

 

Munich meeting

 

ElBaradei and Larijani's meeting comes just over a week after Larijani met Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, for the first time in months at a security conference in Munich.

 

Solana had been spearheading EU efforts to find a compromise solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme but the talks with Iran collapsed in September when Tehran refused to suspend enrichment.

 

Larijani has suggested a limit on the degree of
nuclear enrichment [AP]
Iranian officials have said that contacts between Solana and Larijani will continue, although this has yet to be confirmed by the EU.
 

Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, said: "During the meeting last week between Mr Larijani and Mr Solana, they agreed that talks would resume where they left off."

 

The deadline for Iran to suspend enrichment came in the same UN resolution that imposed targeted sanctions against Iran's nuclear industry and ballistic missile sectors.

 

The US has threatened to impose unilateral measures of its own if Tehran does not comply.

 

Meanwhile, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards launched three days of countrywide war games on Monday, aimed at readying the defensive capabilities of the armed forces.

Source: Agencies