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Iran, 5+1 agree to meet again in Kazakhstan
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_am4(11).jpgTEHRAN – Two days of nuclear talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) ended on Wednesday with an agreement to return to Almaty, Kazakhstan, for further negotiations on April 5 and 6. 
 
The two sides also agreed to meet at expert level in Istanbul on March 18. 
 
According to Reuters, the six powers offered at the talks to lift some sanctions if Iran scaled back nuclear activity.
 
World powers had previously demanded that Iran halt 20 percent enrichment, shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, and ship all of its stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium out of the country. 
 
Western officials said the offer of sanctions relief included a resumption of trade in gold and precious metals and lifting an embargo on imports of petrochemical products if Iran responded. But a U.S. official said the world powers had not offered to suspend oil or financial sanctions.
 
Iran’s main demand is that its right to uranium enrichment, as enumerated in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, be recognized.
 
The meeting in Almaty was the first between the world powers and Iran in eight months. 
 
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the 5+1 group had been “more realistic” than in previous discussions.
 
“Certain positions of the 5+1 group were more positive compared to those expressed in the past,” Jalili told a press conference.
 
Jalili also said the six powers had tried to “get closer to our viewpoint,” adding, “We are still far from the desired point, but even to this extent, the step taken by the 5+1 has been positive.” 
 
“We consider the talks a positive step that could be completed by adopting a positive approach and taking reciprocal steps,” he said. 
 
On the offer of sanctions relief in return for halting uranium enrichment to a purity level of 20 percent, Jalili said, “Any proposal that is offered and is meant for transparency and confidence-building should recognize the Islamic Republic’s nuclear rights, including the right to uranium enrichment.” 
 
“The production of nuclear fuel (enriched to) 20 percent to meet our needs is our inalienable right… if we have a plan to meet a need and (decide to) have cooperation with them, it can be done through adopting a confidence-building approach and gaining the confidence of the Iranian nation, but hostile moves against the Iranian nation should be halted,” the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said. 
 
Elsewhere in his remarks, Jalili ruled out shutting down Fordo saying, “The Fordo site is a legal site, and the International Atomic Energy Agency is informed about it, and the site is under the supervision of the agency.”
 
“There is no justification for closing the site, and they have made no request in this regard,” he added. 
 
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led the talks on behalf of the six powers, also said, “I hope the Iranian side is looking positively on the proposal we put forward.”
 
“We have to see what happens next.”
 
Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that the six powers had offered to ease sanctions on Iran if it stops enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity at the underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility.
 
PA/AM

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