P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran begin in Almaty | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 05.04.2013
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P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran begin in Almaty

Representatives from Iran and the six United Nations veto-holding powers, including Germany, have begun a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear programs. The talks are aimed at curbing Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

On Friday, world powers resumed talks in Kazakhstan's capital city, Almaty, in a bid to resolve a decade-long dispute over Iran's nuclear capabilities.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton headed the veto-holding nations group, known as the P5+1, which includes the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. The Iranian delegation was headed by chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

The P5+1 nations hope Iran will limit its most sensitive nuclear work in exchange for eased economic sanctions.

Iran insists its uranium enrichment program is in place to support medical research and energy production. However, other nations have long suspected that it is being used to develop nuclear weapons.

The last round of talks, held in Almaty in February, produced little other than agreements to continue discussions.

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Catherine Ashton cautiously optimistic

Ashton has expressed "cautious optimism" that the newest round could be a success. However, Jalili was still sticking to Iran's main demand: "We think our talks tomorrow can go forward with one word. That is the acceptance of the rights of Iran, particularly the right to enrichment," he said in a speech at an Almaty university on Thursday.

In a telephone call on Thursday, the Iranian and German foreign ministers, Ali-Akbar Salehi and Guido Westerwelle, respectively, expressed hope that the talks would become the "start of a move forward" and have concrete results, the Fars news agency reported.

Israel, widely assumed to be the only nuclear power in the region, has threatened to take military action against Iran if it refuses to end the programs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting US senators that Tehran's nuclear work must end.

"We cannot allow a situation in which a regime that calls for our annihilation has the weapons of annihilation," he said on Thursday. "And I think that must be stopped at all cost."

The meeting is expected to last until Saturday.

hc/mkg (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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