IRAN, WORLD POWERS FINISH FIRST ROUND OF BAGHDAD TALKS
- Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) finished their first round of talks in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad minutes ago, Fars News Agency reports.
The talks came a day after the UN's nuclear watchdog held talks with Iran to try to gain better access to the country's nuclear installations.
According to BBC News, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said any efforts by Western powers to put pressure on Iran at the talks would be "futile".
But he told a news conference in Tehran that there were reasons to be optimistic about the negotiations. "The ideas fielded to us speak of the fact that the other side would like to make Baghdad a success. We hope that in a day or two we can bring good news."
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - plus Germany are seeking to persuade Iranian officials to scale back their nuclear program.
As the talks began, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the world powers were putting a new offer to Tehran.
The spokesman, Michael Mann, would not confirm whether this offer included any relief on sanctions.
Tehran insists its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, but the West fears Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
Security is tight at the talks, with about 15,000 Iraqi police and troops protecting the venue inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.
Previous talks in Istanbul in April managed to find enough common ground to arrange a further meeting in Baghdad.
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