Iran gives positive signals on informal nuclear talks, time short - sources

FILE PHOTO: An Iranian soldier stands guard inside the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 322km (200 miles) south of Iran's capital Tehran March 9, 2006.REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

PARIS (Reuters) - Iran has given encouraging signs in recent days about opening informal talks with world powers and the United States, two European sources said on Thursday after European powers scrapped plans to criticise Tehran at the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Iran has so far refused to take part in a meeting brokered by the European Union between world powers and the United States on reviving its 2015 nuclear deal.

"Things are moving in the right direction and we have had positive signals this week and especially in last few days," a French diplomatic source said. "We are seeing movements that we weren't seeing last weekend," he said.

The source added the objective was to get everyone around the table before the start of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, on March 20, when Iran slows down administratively.

He added that the window would also narrow from mid-April when Iran's presidential election campaign kicks in.

"We are putting all our efforts so that this (meeting) can take place in the days or coming weeks," the source said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister both spoke separately with their Iranian counterparts earlier this week.

A second European source also said there had been positive signals from the Iranian side.

An Iranian official declined to comment.

An EU official said that this was the objective and the channels remained open with contacts almost daily.

"It's good that the Iranians are still talking," the official said.

The French source added that another positive indication was that Iran had reportedly suspended its production of uranium metal, one of its latest violations of the nuclear accord, although that had not been verified by the IAEA.

Britain, France and Germany decided to pause the submission of a resolution critical of Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday to not harm the prospects for diplomacy and after what they said were concessions gained from Iran to deal with outstanding nuclear.

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels and Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Editing by Alex Richardson, GV De Clercq and Hugh Lawson)

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