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U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran meeting 'very productive'

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran held productive talks this week on how to advance a long-blocked inquiry into Iranian atomic activities and agreed to meet again in Tehran on November 11, the two sides said in a rare joint statement on Tuesday.

The relatively upbeat announcement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency may further lift hopes for a negotiated solution to the international standoff over its nuclear ambitions after the June election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking to reduce tension with the West.

The IAEA and Iran "had a very productive meeting on past and present issues," Tero Varjoranta, the agency's deputy director general in charge of nuclear inspections, told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting in Vienna.

Iranian Ambassador Reza Najafi said Tehran presented new ideas to overcome the dispute, which revolves around the U.N. watchdog's suspicions that Iran researched how to build nuclear bombs despite being part of a global non-proliferation treaty.

"I believe (that), with the submission of these new proposals by Iran, we have been able to open a new chapter of cooperation. The ultimate goal would be resolution of all remaining issues," he said, standing next to Varjoranta.

Their conciliatory comments marked a change in tone after a string of meetings since early 2012 failed to yield a deal giving the IAEA access to sites, files and officials relevant to its investigation. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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