updated 9/27/2006 9:54:56 PM ET 2006-09-28T01:54:56

Negotiators for Iran and the European Union held five hours of “very intense” talks Wednesday over Iran’s disputed nuclear program and planned to meeting again Thursday, officials said.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani went into their meeting at a Foreign Ministry facility by the side of Lake Tegel on the outskirts of Berlin without making statements to reporters.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was not participating in the Berlin talks, said he was optimistic progress could be made.

“I have the expectation that the talks today will be successful,” Steinmeier said. “I think that today we will not get any final news, but hopefully in the course of tomorrow.”

Solana would report back to the six countries trying to persuade Iran to give up its program to enrich uranium, he said, “and then it will be decided together if there are conditions for a return to the negotiating table.”

Iran won’t give up ‘one iota’ of its rights
But in Tehran, Iran’s hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country won’t give up “one iota” of its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad said the U.S. and its European allies want to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment but won’t succeed.

“They want to create propaganda about it and tell the world that they forced Iran to suspend (enrichment), but they are mistaken. The Iranian nation won’t retreat from its right one iota,” he was quoted as saying.

The negotiators met for five hours of “very intense” talks before adjourning until Thursday, said Solana spokeswoman Cristina Gallach.

“The talks just broke off and we will resume tomorrow (Thursday) morning,” Gallach said.

U.S. support for EU's standpoint
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington that she telephoned Solana on Wednesday and renewed U.S. support for his talks with Iran.

Solana and Larijani are holding the latest round of talks over a package of incentives that six countries — the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany — are offering Tehran in return for suspending its uranium enrichment program and returning to full-scale negotiations.

Iran missed an Aug. 31 Security Council deadline over the issue. The six are considering seeking sanctions in the U.N. Security Council if Tehran does not comply.

Rice said if Larijani agreed to a suspension of processing uranium “we would be on a course for negotiations.”

But, Rice told reporters, she had told Solana “clearly this won’t go on very much longer.”

“I did wish Solana well, and we are all awaiting the outcome of these discussions,” she said.

Earlier, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said whether Iran was agreeable to a temporary and verifiable suspension would not be known until Solana concludes his meetings with Larijani.

“It may require several meetings to find out,” the spokesman said. “There may be an opportunity here,” he said.

The administration’s sanctions strategy is to impose a series of increasingly potent penalties against Iran, beginning with curbs on technology that could be used in military programs.

Enriched uranium can be used for power plants or for weapons, depending on the level of enrichment.

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