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Iran Negotiator Says Headway At Nuke Talks

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, has said reaching a framework deal is "possible this week."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says his country and six world powers are making some progress at "tough" talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Zarif, who is also Iran's top nuclear negotiator, made the statement after the first session of a fresh round of negotiations in Geneva with the P5+1 group -- the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany.

The powers hope to reach a "first step" deal to ease concern over Tehran's nuclear research -- which the West suspects may be aimed at developing an atomic weapon.

Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating the P5+1 team, described the morning session as "good" but declined to give details.

Mann also said discussions would continue in smaller groups in the afternoon before Ashton and Zarif, who also had a breakfast meeting, were due to meet again.

Before the talks, diplomats said the P5+1 wants Iran to place some limits on its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of some international sanctions.

Diplomats say such a confidence-building step would pave the way to further talks on a more comprehensive agreement.

In particular, the P5+1 wants Iran to curtail its uranium enrichment program and slow work on the nuclear reactor under construction in Arak.

A senior U.S. official said the six world powers are ready to offer "limited, targeted and reversible" sanctions relief. The official, however, added any such economic relief given to Iran would be canceled if Tehran reneges on commitments it makes in Geneva.

The dpa news agency quotes an Iranian source as saying Tehran is looking for a lifting of banking sanctions to allow for the import again of medicine and food.

An Israeli official told the AFP news agency on November 6 that the P5+1 should use its leverage to demand Tehran halt all uranium enrichment and construction at Arak.

The talks getting under way in Geneva are the second such encounter since Hassan Rohani took office as president of Iran in August. He has since pushed for the lifting of sanctions and for improving relations with the West.

Tehran has repeatedly denied it is using its nuclear program to secretly develop nuclear weapons as the West suspects.

With reporting by dpa and Reuters
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