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PostThu Feb 20, 2014 5:48 pm     Rouhani: Iran hopes for 'liberation' of Jerusalem    

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Rouhani: Iran hopes for 'liberation' of Jerusalem

Iranian president says the Muslim world is hoping for a solution to "occupation" • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says world powers and Iran made a "good start" at nuclear talks in Vienna • Gallup poll: Only 12% of Americans view Iran favorably.

By Dan Lavie, Shlomo Cesana
Israel Hayom Staff and News Agencies
February 20, 2014

The six world powers and Iran made a "good start" at talks in Vienna toward reaching a final settlement on Iran's contested nuclear program, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after three days of negotiations, Ashton said the two sides had identified the ingredients of an accord.

But Ashton cautioned that the negotiations with Iran would be difficult.

"We have had three very productive days during which we have identified all of the issues we need to address in reaching a comprehensive and final agreement," Ashton told reporters. "There is a lot to do. It won't be easy but we have made a good start."

Senior diplomats from the six powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- as well as Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ashton agreed to meet again on March 17, also in the Austrian capital.

Although modest in scope, the agreement on an agenda for talks indicates an early step forward in the elusive search for a settlement in the nuclear dispute.

The sides remain far apart on how to resolve the dispute and both Iran and the U.S., a key player in the talks, have publicly stated it may not be possible to reach a final agreement.

A senior U.S. State Department official said of Wednesday's second day of talks: "Today's discussions, which covered both process and substance, were constructive and useful."

The six powers want a long-term deal on the permissible scope of Iran's nuclear work to lay to rest concerns that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran's priority is a complete removal of damaging economic sanctions against it.

The powers have yet to spell out their precise demands of Iran. But Western officials have signalled they want Iran to cap enrichment of uranium at a low fissile concentration, limit research and development of new nuclear equipment, decommission a substantial portion of its centrifuges used to refine uranium, and allow more intrusive U.N. nuclear inspections.

Such steps, they believe, would help extend the time Iran would need to make enough fissile material for a bomb and make such a move easier to detect before it became a fait accompli. Iran claims its program is peaceful and has no military aims.

Wide differences over expectations remain, however. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was cited by Press TV on Tuesday as saying Iran would not agree to dismantle its nuclear installations.

Meanwhile, during a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday with Palestinian Parliament Speaker Salim Zanoun, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "One of the wishes of the Iranian nation is liberation of the Holy Quds," referring to Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. . . . [More]



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