Iran's new top nuclear negotiator is scheduled Tuesday to hold his first international meeting about Tehran's contentious nuclear program since his appointment – a session in Rome with the European Union's foreign policy chief.
Saeed Jalili, a little-known figure in Iranian politics, was appointed his country's chief negotiator after Ali Larijani stepped down this weekend. The relatively moderate Larijani's departure has signaled that hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad may push the Islamic republic into an even more defiant position in its nuclear standoff with the West.
However, Larijani was to attend the Rome talks alongside Jalili and the EU's Javier Solana, according to Iran's Foreign Ministry. The talks had been scheduled ahead of Larijani's replacement, but it was not immediately clear what role he would play Tuesday.
The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt uranium enrichment, a key step in the production of atomic weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, including generating electricity.