EU ministers back suspension of Iran sanctions

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The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs has confirmed that certain EU sanctions against Iran are to be suspended.

Speaking at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 January 2014, Baroness Ashton said that the EU "aimed to start negotiations about a comprehensive solution with Iran in February".

The decision to lift sanctions - which began in 2006 - follows Tehran's decision to begin curbing uranium enrichment.

The suspension of sanctions for six months clears the way for Iran to resume export of petrochemicals.

Baroness Ashton said that "this is an important day in our pursuit of ensuring that Iran has an exclusively peaceful nuclear programme".

Foreign ministers also used the meeting to vote to send troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) following worsening violence.

The EU will now seek a mandate at the United Nations for such an operation, and EU experts will go to the CAR capital Bangui to assess the cost.

So far , Greece has offered to host a mission headquarters and Estonia is prepared to send up to 55 troops, the diplomat said.

Several other countries are considering troop contributions, including Lithuania, Romania, Austria and Finland.

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