VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. nuclear agency chief Yukiya Amano said he hoped his talks with Iranian officials in Tehran on Monday would yield concrete results to help advance a long-stalled investigation into Iran's atomic activities.
Amano's International Atomic Energy Agency is holding its own negotiations with Iran, separate from talks between Tehran and Western powers that ended early on Sunday in Geneva with no agreement but a decision to resume in 10 days.
Western countries suspect Iran is trying to develop an atomic bomb capability, which Iran denies. The IAEA wants Iran to cooperate better to assuage suspicions it is seeking a bomb. If Amano can make headway, that may help to raise hopes that a deal might also be possible when big power diplomacy resumes.
Amano, speaking at Vienna airport on Sunday before departing to the Iranian capital, said he aimed to build on a new proposal made by Iran last month that included "practical measures to strengthen" cooperation between the two sides.
"We are coming to a very important point," Amano said.
The IAEA has held a series of meetings with Iran since early 2012, so far without a breakthrough, and Western diplomats have accused Tehran of stonewalling the agency's inquiry.
But the election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as new Iranian president in June has fuelled hope that the decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program can be resolved diplomatically, including the IAEA-Iran negotiations.
"I hope the coming meeting will produce concrete results on how we move forward to resolve all outstanding issues to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," Amano said. "This an independent process."
Diplomats say Amano, who last went to Tehran in May 2012 on an ultimately unsuccessful trip, would not go this time unless he was confident of real progress.
The IAEA wants to resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, which Iran denies, and also seeks more transparency generally in the Iranian nuclear program to ensure that it does not have any military links.
One Vienna-based envoy said he expected an IAEA-Iran agreement on Monday on "first step" confidence-building measures towards greater nuclear transparency, including the provision of design information about Iran's nuclear facilities.
The U.N. agency seeks access to sites, officials and documents in Iran for its probe. It has also repeatedly asked Iran to give it more up-to-date design information about nuclear facilities either under construction or planned.
(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl)
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