02/26/2013, 00.00
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Iran to vet 5+1 offer in Almaty, holds talks with China

It is not yet clear what Tehran might offer, but talks have begun this morning in Almaty (Kazakhstan) until tomorrow. The members of the UN Security Council (plus Germany) are prepared to reconsider sanctions in exchange for unimpeded access to Iran's nuclear facilities.

Almaty (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Iran is set to present its proposals to break the logjam with the 5+1 group (China, France, Great Britain, Russia, the United States, plus Germany). The latter are willing to lift sanctions on Iran if it gives up enriching uranium on its own. This at least is what Michael Mann, the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, suggested this morning at the start of the current round of talks with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

According to the EU diplomat, Iran and 5+1 members have also held bilateral talks, including China. But their content has not been made public. For their part, chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and his delegation are prepared to continue the talks until tomorrow.

Mann said that the 5+1 group is prepared to hear Iran's positions, but any move on sanctions will depend on Tehran allowing inspections in its nuclear facility. Iran is thought to be enriching uranium for military purposes.

The Natanz nuclear plant (in central Iran) is one of the sites targeted, especially after new centrifuges were installed three weeks ago increasing five folds uranium enrichment to 20 per cent.

For Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the small steps forward taken so far in the talks will not lead to anything concrete.

The small overtures by both sides will be examined in the next, yet-to-be-decided round of talks.

Talks between the 5+1 group and Iran restarted on 24 April in Istanbul 2012 after a year hiatus. They were continued in Baghdad (23-24 May) and Moscow (18-19 June) without results.

Recently, the United States and Israel have called for tougher sanctions against Iran.

On 8 February, Iran's Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Alì Khamenei dismissed an offer for direct Us-Iranian talks on its nuclear programme, saying in a not-so-subtle allusion to the sanctions that Iran could not negotiate with a someone "holding a gun" to its head.


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