Iran nuclear talks in Geneva hailed as "substantive"

Posted by Hannah Allam on October 16, 2013 

Six world powers and Iran today wrapped up a round of nuclear talks in Geneva, where the so-called P5+1 were trying to build on the momentum from Tehran's much-noted recent overtures to the West.

The P5+1 - the five permanent UN Security Council members USA, Russia, China, UK and France, plus Germany - formed in 2006 as a diplomatic vehicle to get Iran to be more transparent about its nuclear ambitions amid fears that it's pursuing a secret weapons program. Iran has always maintained that its program is for peaceful purposes, such as electricity generation.

Several reporters with Iran expertise are in Geneva for the talks, tweeting and reporting on what sounds like the most productive round in recent memory. My McClatchy colleague Roy Gutman filed this report.

Below are some updates from the work of three other journalists who closely follow this topic: Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor, Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor, and Ali Gharib of the Daily Beast.

Recap, from the reporters' Twitter feeds and news reports:

- Iran presented a new, three-phased plan in English called: "Closing an Unnecessary Crisis and Opening New Horizons." The plan, essentially, is to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for some relief from crippling sanctions.

- The Iranian proposal was praised as unprecedented in its technical detail, and described as a a full road map for greater transparency and an "endgame."

- The new Iranian proposal – presented via PowerPoint in the first session by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – was followed up by expert-level technical discussions.

- US and Iranian officials met in rare face-to-face talks at the end of Day 1, another sign of a very tentative thaw in the long-frozen relations.

- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led the talks, for the first time issued a joint statement with the Iranian foreign minister. They called the talks "substantive and forward-looking."

- Ashton told reporters: "We know we have to look for a first step. We also have to be extremely clear going forward on what we consider to be the last step."

- Zarif told reporters there's a "common goal" to provide confidence about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program while respecting the country's rights under the nonproliferation treaty.

- The parties agreed that P5+1 and Iranian nuclear, scientific and sanctions experts will meet before the next round of talks.

- The next round of talks is expected to be in Geneva on Nov. 7 and 8.

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