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Iran, world powers pledge new nuclear talks

Update: October, 17/2013 - 12:05

GENEVA – Both Washington and Tehran were upbeat after Iran agreed to hold fresh nuclear talks with world powers next month and made a "breakthrough" proposal to allow spot checks on its nuclear sites.

After the talks deal Wednesday, Iran said it was hopeful for a "new phase in our relations" with the international community.

Germany was also positive, saying the latest talks had boosted hopes for a diplomatic solution but a wary Russia warned there was "no reason to break into applause."

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the next meeting would convene in Geneva on November 7 and 8.

She read from what she underlined was an unprecedented joint statement agreed with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and herself as chair of the international negotiating team.

The EU is at the helm of the so-called P5+1 group – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany – which has spent years trying to reach a deal with Iran amid fears that it is developing nuclear weapons. The Islamic republic vehemently denies that and insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

The statement described this week's Geneva talks as "substantive and forward-looking," calling Iran's plan a "proposed basis for negotiation."

The talks were the first between all parties' nuclear negotiators since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, succeeded conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August.

They ended a six-month freeze over Iran's refusal to curb uranium enrichment in exchange for easing the international sanctions battering its economy.

Amid signs of a thaw with the international community, Rouhani has pledged transparency on the nuclear programme and engagement with major powers to try to remove the sanctions.

"We hope that this a beginning of a new phase in our relations," Zarif told reporters.

While the details remain under wraps, Iran's lead nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said its proposal involved "proportionate and reciprocal steps by both sides."

After an hour-long presentation Tuesday by Iran's team – in English, a first in the nuclear talks – Araqchi said the proposal had the "capacity to make a breakthrough." AFP


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