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Iran offers concessions,next talks set for Nov 7-8

Iran hints ready to curb sensitive uranium enrichment,may later allow UN probe.

Written by Reuters | Geneva |
October 17, 2013 1:48:26 am

Iran appears ready to scale back activity of potential use in making nuclear bombs,suggesting it is willing to compromise for a deal to win relief from harsh economic sanctions,diplomats said Wednesday,and follow-up talks will be held on November 7-8.

Details of Iran’s proposals,presented during two days of nuclear negotiations in Geneva with six world powers,have not been released,and Western officials were unsure whether Tehran was prepared to go far enough to clinch a breakthrough deal.

But,in a clear sign of hope,European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it was agreed to hold the next round of negotiations in three weeks in Geneva,and Iran’s chief negotiator praised this week’s discussions as “fruitful”.

After a six-month hiatus,Iran and the United States,Russia,China,France,Britain and Germany began negotiations in earnest on Tuesday to end a long,festering stand-off that could boil over into a new Middle East war.

Diplomatic paralysis reigned during the eight-year tenure of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,a bellicose hardliner. But a door to serious negotiations opened in June with the landslide election of moderate Hassan Rouhani on a platform of conciliation to overcome Iran’s international isolation.

The powers want the Islamic Republic to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment to allay concerns that it would provide Iran a quick path to bomb-grade nuclear fuel. Iran says it is refining uranium only to generate more electricity for a rapidly expanding population and to produce isotopes for medicine.

Ashton told a closing news conference that the powers were “carefully” examining Iran’s proposals and that this week’s discussions were “the most detailed (discussions) we have ever had,by,I would say,a long way.”

Ashton,presiding over the talks on behalf of the six powers,said the two sides had agreed that nuclear and sanctions experts would convene before the next high-level negotiations.

Iranian Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran looked to a new era in diplomatic relations.

“We sense that members of the (six powers) also have exhibited the necessary political will in order to move the process forward. Now we need to get to the details,” he told reporters. He said two sides had for the first time agreed on a joint statement after the talks,but declined to elaborate on what had been discussed.

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