Barbara Miller — ABC News Oct 17, 2013
Talks between Iran and world powers in Switzerland on Tehran’s nuclear program are being described as the most detailed ever held.
In a rare joint statement, European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said two days of talks in Geneva had been substantive and forward-looking.
“We hope that this is a beginning of a new phase in our relations,” Mr Zarif said.
The talks are the first since president Hassan Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, took office.
The meeting brought together Iran’s representatives with those from the so-called P5+1 – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, all countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council, plus Germany.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Iranian presentation at the talks was “useful” and showed a “level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before”.
Germany was also positive, saying the latest talks had boosted hope for a diplomatic solution.
British foreign secretary William Hague welcomed the upbeat tone of negotiations, but said it should not be forgotten that Iran’s nuclear program was continuing to develop.
But a wary Russia warned there was “no reason to break into applause”.
“The talks were difficult, sometimes intense, and sometimes unpredictable,” Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov said.
“One of the reasons is the extremely low level of mutual trust – practically the absence of the required level of trust.”
Israel’s international relations minister, Yuval Steinitz, said the country was watching the talks “with hope and with concern”.
Western nations have demanded that Iran halt the production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20 per cent – a step away from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.
They also want Iran to send some of its stockpiles abroad, and shut down the Fordo production site near the city of Qom, where most of the higher-grade enrichment work is done.
In return, Iran is seeking an end to crippling economic sanctions put in place in recent years.
Neither side would provide any details of any concrete measures agreed, but further talks have been arranged for early November.