Iran and the European Union are to resume nuclear talks in Istanbul next week, the Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had agreed in a phone conversation to meet on Tuesday in Istanbul, Fars reported, without giving further details. There has been no official confirmation yet of the Jalili-Ashton meeting.

Iran's official news agency IRNA reported that Jalili would leave for Ankara on Monday to meet with Turkish officials but did not mention his meeting with Ashton. The latest round of nuclear talks were held in Moscow in June and ended without any breakthrough.

The head of the UN atomic agency said on monday, he wants to hold more talks with Iran on suspicions of past nuclear weapons research activities, despite the failure of a string of meetings this year.

Speaking at the start of a week-long annual gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 155 member states in Vienna, Yukiya Amano said the watchdog "is firmly committed to intensifying dialogue" with Tehran.

"We will continue negotiations with Iran on a structured approach to resolve all outstanding issues. I hope we can reach agreement without further delay, to be followed by immediate implementation," Amano said in a speech. His comments came ahead of an address to the IAEA general conference by Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. Abbasi was also due to meet Amano later on Monday.

On August 24, the IAEA failed again to convince Tehran in talks to grant access to sites, scientists and documents linked to suspected activities that the IAEA believes were "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".

Evidence of these alleged activities, which the IAEA believes were carried out under a structured programme until 2003 and possibly since, were set out in a major IAEA report in November that cited a number of different sources including foreign intelligence services.

Iran is also expanding the enrichment of uranium, a process subject to IAEA inspections - which can provide fuel for nuclear power stations and medical purposes, but also when highly enriched for a nuclear weapon. Iran, subject to growing international pressure over its growing nuclear activities, says its programme is peaceful and that the IAEA's allegations are baseless. It wants any agreement with the IAEA to cover a range of issues.

An earlier fruitless meeting between Iran and the IAEA took place in June. Amano also visited Tehran in May, as did a team lead by chief inspector Herman Nackaerts in January and February, returning however with no deal.

Parallel higher-level diplomatic meetings between Iran and the P5+1- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - took place in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow earlier this year but were downgraded to working-group level.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, P5+1 chief negotiator, would however meet Iranian counterpart Saeed Jalili in Istanbul on Tuesday, her office said on Monday.

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