Negotiators report 'most detailed' talks on Iran's nuclear programme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 4:04am

World powers are "carefully" examining Iran's proposal which aims to resolve the dispute over its nuclear programme, ahead of a new round of talks on November 7-8, the European Union's foreign policy chief said yesterday.

Catherine Ashton, who is leading talks with Iran on behalf of six world powers, said the two sides had agreed that nuclear and sanctions experts would meet before the next high-level meeting.

She told a news conference the discussions had been more detailed than at earlier meetings, calling them: "The most detailed [discussions] we have ever had, by, I would say, a long way. Our positions have been set out on a number of issues already."

Iran says it's not interested in having nuclear weapons. Its proposal to the six powers — United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — focused on their demands that Iran's uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used to make nuclear arms be stopped or reduced.

No details of the proposal were made public. But comments from Western officials meeting with Iranian negotiators indicated interest in it, and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi called it a way for Iran to leave the "dark" path of international isolation.

Both sides sought to dampen expectations of any rapid deal at the meeting, the first since moderate President Hassan Rowhani was elected in June, pledging to scrap the politics of confrontation to ease Iran's international isolation.

"We hope that this is a beginning of a new phase in our relations," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters.

"Are we there yet? No, but we need to keep talking," a Western diplomat said as talks resumed yesterday.

Western diplomats were hesitant to divulge specifics about the negotiations due to sensitivities involved - both in Tehran and Washington.