The second day of talks between Iran and world powers regarding Tehran's nuclear program have wound up. But after little progress on day one, expectations were low that significant moves would be made toward a deal.
Saturday's talks are being held in the Kazakh city of Almaty and involve representatives from the United States, France, China, Britain, Russia and Germany as well as officials from Iran. The division between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and Iran continues to be over concessions Iran is willing to make in exchange for relaxed international sanctions against the country.
The P5+1 has demanded that Iran scale back its nuclear program – which Western powers believe is aimed at creating a nuclear weapon – while Iran says its right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes must be protected. Iran believes it is being asked to concede too much in return for too little.
Day one of the talks on Friday saw no major movement toward an agreement on this critical issue.
'Talking about the real issues'
The second day started with Catherine Ashton - the European Union's foreign policy chief - serving as lead negotiator for the world powers, meeting with her Iranian counterpart.
An Iranian official quoted by the AFP news agency said that the two sides "exchanged views on ways to progress along the path of negotiations."
Despite the unlikelihood of a change in position of either side by the end of the two-day talks on Saturday, there was at least some optimism about the discussions.
"They were talking about the real issues at hand, which - as you know - has not always been the case," said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a press conference in Washington. "But that's a different matter than whether they actually made progress that we can report yet."
mz/slk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)