Iran will consider any new atom fuel ideas: Mottaki

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Iran would consider any new ideas on a proposed nuclear fuel swap with major powers, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday, after meeting his Turkish counterpart in Tehran.

But there was no immediate sign that the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had produced any breakthrough in Iran's long-running nuclear standoff with the West.

Davutoglu, who arrived late on Monday to try to salvage a U.N.-brokered uranium swap deal as calls grow for new sanctions against Iran, was expected to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later on Tuesday.

Turkey, which has strengthened its ties with Iran since the Islamist-rooted AK Party took power, has offered to use its access to the Iranian leadership to help solve a dispute between global powers and Tehran over its nuclear program.

Washington and its allies fear Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons, and are lobbying for new United Nations sanctions, but Tehran says its aims are purely peaceful.

CONSULTATIONS

Mottaki described the talks with Davutoglu as consultations, rather than any mediation between Tehran and the world powers involved in efforts to resolve the nuclear row diplomatically.

We have informed our Turkish friends about the latest developments on Iran's peaceful nuclear case, Mottaki told a joint news conference with Davutoglu.

Ahmadinejad's order last week to start production of higher-grade uranium, rather than agree to the U.N.-brokered fuel swap proposal, exposes Tehran to new calls for U.N. sanctions from Western powers.

Mottaki, echoing comments by Iran's nuclear agency chief on Monday, said the United States, France and Russia had submitted a new letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The letter contained a new proposal, Mottaki said. While we are continuing our (nuclear) activities we will consider any new idea or proposal, either given directly or indirectly via the agency (IAEA), he said, giving no details.

The United States denied on Monday that it had made new proposals along with France and Russia on the nuclear fuel swap, and said the door remains open for Tehran to accept the proposal offered in October.

France also dismissed the report, saying the existing deal was the only valid offer. Russia said the countries had simply confirmed their support for a proposal brokered by the IAEA last year to send much of Iran's low enriched uranium abroad.

Iran wants any such swap, under which Iran would receive higher-grade fuel for a medical reactor, to be simultaneous.

Turkey has offered itself as a third country where the uranium could be exchanged, but Davutoglu did not specifically address the nuclear issue at Tuesday's news conference.

The relationship between Turkey and Iran has a great potential. We want to make use of this potential and we aim to increase the trade volume between the two countries to $30 billion, he said.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb, Reza Derakhshi and Parisa Hafezi in Tehran and Zerin Elci in Ankara; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by David Stamp)

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