Big powers, Iran seek progress at “nitty-gritty” nuclear talks

GENEVA, (Reuters) – World powers will press Iran today for details of its proposal on resolving their decade-old nuclear dispute during a second day of talks in Geneva.

Western diplomats stress they want Tehran to back up its newly conciliatory language with concrete actions by scaling back its nuclear programme and allaying their suspicions it is seeking the capability to make atomic bombs.

Both sides are trying to dampen expectations of any rapid breakthrough at the two-day meeting, the first to be held since President Hassan Rouhani took office, promising conciliation over confrontation in Iran’s relations with the world.

“There is still an awful lot of work to be done,” said a spokesman for the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees diplomacy with Iran on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

“We have had a certain amount of information from the Iranian side and we will hope to get more detail from them tomorrow,” spokesman Michael Mann said after the first day of talks on Tuesday.

His statement suggested Iran had yet to persuade Western nations it was willing to curb the nuclear work and assure them this was purely for peaceful energy production and medical purposes, as Tehran says. In the Tuesday session, negotiators had started discussing the “nitty-gritty” details of Iranian suggestions, Mann said.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said his side had presented a proposal capable of achieving a breakthrough. But he later added it was not possible to tell whether progress was being made. “It’s too soon to judge,” he told Reuters.

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