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Iran 'serious' about nuclear talks

Negotiator dines with EU official ahead of formal meeting on offer

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Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, will return to formal talks next week.

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(CNN) -- Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Thursday in Brussels that his country is "serious" about talks with the European Union on its nuclear program, according to the EU press office.

But the Iranian official, who spoke before attending a working dinner with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, did not provide a response to the package of incentives offered by the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.

A senior State Department official said that Solana spoke with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after the dinner.

Solana told Rice his dinner with Larijani involved a "general discussion of the issue of Iran's nuclear program," the official said, adding that "no response to the P5 plus 1 proposal was given."

P5 plus 1 refers to the permanent five (Britain, China, France, Russia, U.S.) and Germany.

Solana and Larijani are expected to meet again next Tuesday before the ministers of the P5 and Germany meet the following day in Paris.

"We are serious about continuing negotiations. And we are going to start next Tuesday our talks," Larijani said before Thursday's meeting.

"I'm looking forward to getting this process going, that we think is going to be beneficial for both sides, for the European Union and many countries of the world and for Iran," Solana said.

"We are going to work. We are not going to talk much (to the press): We are going to work," he said.

Tehran is under international pressure to respond to the proposal before the G8 summit July 15-17 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he does not plan to respond until Aug. 22.

Tehran insists its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, but Western countries believe the Islamic republic is building a weapons program.

-- CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report

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