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Optimism over Iran talks

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-01 07:15

The two-day talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany - over Teheran's disputed nuclear program concluded on Wednesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, without yielding any major progress. But the obvious optimism that the parties concerned have expressed so far should shore up confidence that a consensus might be within reach if all parties continue to build on this desirable momentum.

Marking a significant shift in their previous hard-line policies, the world powers have reportedly offered Iran a new plan, which allows the Islamic country to keep a limited amount of highly enriched uranium and offers to lift some trade sanctions.

The US State Department on Wednesday said it welcomes Iran's interest in the proposal. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili called the world powers' attitude toward its nuclear issue "more realistic".

Compared to the three rounds of negotiations held last year, the message from the latest round of talks is more positive. Both Iran and the Western powers have softened their tone. This has helped create a better atmosphere for negotiators to ponder the proposal and find ways to narrow the gaps in their stances in the coming weeks.

Nonetheless, it is still too early to gauge whether a breakthrough can be made in the foreseeable future as the talks have now entered the stage where each side should make concessions to break the long-standing stalemate. The lack of any political will to compromise has been the reason why the issue has remained deadlocked for more than a decade.

Israel's repeated threat of attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities also presents a major uncertainty to the future of the talks and the world's mediation efforts. Before negotiators meet again, any drastic move could easily squander the relatively positive atmosphere that exists at the moment.

The already chaotic situation in some countries in the Middle East requires that the diplomatic path remain the first choice for resolving the dispute, because what is certain is the negative impact a war would have on regional security and the world economy.

Hence, all parties should display flexibility and sincerity while accommodating each other's concerns, so that the good momentum that has been achieved can be maintained and further progress secured in future talks.

(China Daily 03/01/2013 page8)

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