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Iran talks with world powers hit snag over sanctions

24 May 2012, 14:03

Baghdad- Iran accused world powers on Wednesday of creating "a difficult atmosphere" that hindered talks on its atomic energy programme, signalling a snag in diplomacy to defuse fears of a covert Iranian bid to develop nuclear bombs.

The nub of the dispute was not immediately clear as the Baghdad talks entered a second day.

But Iran had served notice that it wanted immediate relief from economic sanctions as part of any deal to scale back uranium enrichment, whereas Western powers insisted Tehran must first rein in its activity.

Pro-government Iranian media said Tehran's negotiators were demanding a principle of "reciprocity" of concessions, which they said was not on the table in the Baghdad talks.

The United States had voiced cautious hope on Wednesday that Iran was finally engaging the powers on practical, transparent ways of showing its nuclear work, marked by years of secrecy and evasions of U.N. inspections, would be for peaceful ends only.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, heading the powers' delegation in Baghdad, met her Iranian counterpart on Thursday before the full plenary session commenced, a Western diplomat said.

But an Iranian delegate poured cold water on suggestions that progress towards an outline deal, seen as crucial to heading off the danger of a new Middle East war, was being made.

"What we heard in Istanbul was more interesting," he said, referring to exploratory talks that ended a 15-month diplomatic deep freeze during which the West escalated sanctions to target Iran's oil exports.



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