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World powers, Iran brace for second day of nuclear talks

Update: October, 16/2013 - 11:43

GENEVA – World powers and Iran braced on Wednesday for a second day of talks aimed at ending their decade-long standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, after the Islamic republic put a new proposal on the table.

Senior negotiators backed by experts on nuclear affairs and sanctions were to comb through the details of what Iran billed as a breakthrough offer.

Iranian negotiators and counterparts from the European Union-chaired P5+1 group – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany – were set to meet behind closed doors from 9:30am (0730 GMT).

The Geneva talks, which began on Tuesday, ended a six-month freeze sparked by Iran's refusal to curb uranium enrichment in exchange for easing the punishing international sanctions that have battered its economy.

The P5+1 and Iran's archfoe Israel fear that Tehran's atomic programme is a disguised effort to build a nuclear bomb, a claim it denies vehemently.

President Hassan Rouhani succeeded conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August.

Seen as more moderate, he has pledged transparency on the nuclear programme and engagement with the international community to try to get the sanctions lifted.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team made an hour-long presentation to the P5+1 – in English, for the first time, which Western diplomats said underlined the new mood. "

The proposal that we have introduced has the capacity to make a breakthrough," Iran's lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi said, telling reporters it was "very comprehensive" but that all parties had agreed to keep it under wraps.

He indicated what was not on the table, however, with Iranian state news agency IRNA quoting him as saying that an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing snap inspections was not part of the offer. Iran's other red lines include suspending uranium enrichment or shipping stockpiles of purified material abroad. AFP

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