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Leaders Express 'Cautious Optimism' Over Iran Nuclear Plan

NPR | Oct. 15, 2013 12:39 p.m.

Contributed By:

Scott Neuman

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif share a light moment at the start of the two days of closed-door nuclear talks on Tuesday.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif share a light moment at the start of the two days of closed-door nuclear talks on Tuesday.

AP, Fabrice Coffrini

Iran’s proposal for easing the standoff over its nuclear program seems to be getting initial positive reviews at Tuesday’s start of multiparty talks in Geneva.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the Iranian delegation had made a PowerPoint presentation outlining their plan at the beginning of the two-day session. The spokesman said the plan had been received with “cautious optimism,” but gave no further details of the close-door meeting, describing the proceedings as “confidential.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said there’d been a “good” first reaction to Tehran’s proposals, according to Reuters.

As the BBC reports:

“The discussions bring together Iran officials and representatives of the “P5+1 group”, made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany.

In a Facebook entry posted at the weekend, [Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad] Zarif said the talks were the ‘start of a difficult and relatively time-consuming way forward.’”

The talks are the first since moderate President Hassan Rouhani was elected four months ago. Since then, Rouhani has ratcheted down the bombastic rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As The Associated Press writes, the talks are seen as “a key test of Iran’s overtures to the West.”

Foreign Policy says: “While there is little optimism that this week’s talks will resolve the matter of Iranian nuclear weapons development entirely, U.S. officials have hinted that progress made could result in immediate relief from U.S. imposed sanctions.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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