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High-stakes Iran nuclear talks to resume

Update: November, 20/2013 - 11:50

GENEVA – Iran and world powers resume talks on Wednesday seeking a landmark breakthrough over Tehran's nuclear programme that also satisfies sceptical hardliners in Washington, Israel and the Islamic republic.

The Geneva meeting takes place amid heightened Middle East tensions after twin suicide bombings outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed at least 23 people on Tuesday. Iran blamed Israel and its "mercenaries".

Ten days after a high-drama gathering also in Geneva, Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany – the P5+1 – have been cautiously optimistic a deal is possible this time.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also posted a conciliatory but defiant message on YouTube ahead of the meeting, said in Rome that there was "every possibility for success."

Russian President Vladimir Putin – due to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday – said on Monday in a phone call with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani that there was a "real chance."

British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Tuesday after he also phoned Rouhani – the first such contact in a decade – that both leaders agreed it was "important to seize the opportunity."

The P5+1 powers want a "first phase" deal whereby Iran freezes the most sensitive parts of its nuclear activities while a long-term accord is hammered out.—AFP

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