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Iran, six powers to resume talks after snag

Updated: 2013-12-19 17:18
( Agencies)

DUBAI/VIENNA - Iran and six world powers will resume talks in Geneva on Thursday about how to implement a landmark nuclear agreement, a week after Tehran broke off the discussions in anger at an expanding US sanctions blacklist.

Under the Nov 24 interim accord, Iran will curb its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions that are damaging its oil-dependent economy.

The technical talks - expected to involve nuclear as well as sanctions experts - are meant to translate the political deal into a detailed plan on how to put it into practice.

Diplomats said the task was complicated but that progress had been made during the Dec 9-12 meeting in Vienna, even though differences remained. They said there was a real political will on both sides to carry out the agreement.

"It's in the interests of the Iranians to go quickly because there won't be an easing of sanctions until the agreement is implemented," a senior Western diplomat said.

In a sign of this, deputy Iranian chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi said the expert talks were set for an initial two days but may continue into Saturday and Sunday if required, Iran's Fars news agency said.

A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates contacts with Iran on behalf of the powers, confirmed the resumption of the discussions.

Last Thursday, Iranian negotiators interrupted the talks in Vienna in protest against the US blacklisting of an additional 19 Iranian companies and individuals under existing sanctions, saying the move was against the spirit of the deal.

US officials said the move did not violate the Geneva agreement and that they gave Iran advance warning.

The development has highlighted the sensitivities involved in implementing the agreement. Some US lawmakers are pushing for further sanctions against Iran, a move which hardliners in Iran see as proof the United States cannot be trusted.

The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - are seeking to scale back Iran's atomic programme to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. Iran denies any such intention, saying it needs nuclear power in order to generate electricity.

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