U.N. nuclear, humanitarian chiefs set to visit Iran

Both chiefs scheduled to discuss Iran's nuclear program and expanding humanitarian cooperation

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, will visit Iran on Sunday to try to advance cooperation over its contested nuclear drive, the organization said.

Amano, who last went to Tehran in November, is due to hold talks with Iranian leaders and senior officials, the IAEA said.

“The visit is part of the efforts to advance dialogue and cooperation between the agency and Iran,” it said.

It comes ahead of an expected new round of talks between Tehran and six world powers aimed at striking a deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

A spokesman for lead negotiator Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, had said earlier this month that the negotiations would take place before the U.N. General Assembly, which starts on September 16.

After several months of talks, Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany decided last month to extend their self-imposed deadline of July 20 to strike an agreement until November 24.

Such an accord is aimed at easing fears once and for all that the Islamic republic might use its civilian nuclear program to build an atomic bomb, something Tehran has always denied.

Meanwhile, humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is also set to visit Iran on Sunday for two days of talks on expanding humanitarian cooperation amid a mounting thaw between Tehran and the West, a U.N. statement said Friday.

“The visit will also be an opportunity to draw attention to Iran’s considerable experience and expertise in disaster management and humanitarian response and encourage Iranian engagement in the debate about the future of the humanitarian system, ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016,” the statement said.

Iran has face a number of natural disasters in recent years, particularly deadly earthquakes as it stands on several seismic fault lines.

Amos is expected to hold a news conference on Sunday