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New Iran nuclear talks: What can West hope to accomplish?

A US official downplays any hope of a breakthrough in talks this week on the Iran nuclear program. Western negotiators are hoping for some gesture of good faith from Iran.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (r.) greets Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator, in Geneva, the site of talks about the Iran nuclear program Monday.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP

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In talks with Iran this week in Geneva, world powers including the United States are looking for two things: a signal and a commitment.

First, the US and its five partners in the talks that started Monday want a sign from Tehran that it is serious about reducing tensions in the short term to allow for meaningful negotiations on its nuclear program.

And second, the six powers – the US and the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – want a commitment that any long-term negotiations would include Iran’s continuing uranium enrichment.

So far, the talks have gotten the Iranians to agree only to a second day of talks Tuesday – which is one more day than they originally accepted.

In his remarks at the Monday meeting, Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili focused on last week’s car-bombing assassination in Tehran of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari. The Iranian side also wants any eventual negotiations to take up broader issues like international terrorism and regional security.


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