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Ashton 'cautiously optimistic' on Iran nuclear talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday she was cautiously optimistic over the outcome of talks this week between Iran and world powers on Tehran's nuclear drive.

Officials from the so-called P5+1 grouping meet negotiators from Iran in Kazakhstan on Friday, hoping for a response to a revised offer that would ease some sanctions in return for concessions over its uranium enrichment activities.

"We go to Almaty ready now to hear formally the response from Iran," said Ashton, chief negotiator for the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

"I remain always cautiously optimistic but I'm also very clear that it's very important to get a response," she said at a joint news conference in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"I look forward to what I hope will be a successful meeting in Almaty and I really do hope that Iran will now... consider the proposal we put on the table and respond to it," she said.

Davutoglu said Turkey -- which has hosted nuclear negotiations in the past -- was closely following the developments and was "ready to contribute to a solution".

Energy-hungry Turkey, which is heavily dependent on oil and natural gas imports from Tehran, says Iran has the right to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

It abides by UN sanctions against Tehran but opposes unilateral measures taken by the European Union and the United States.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130403/ashton-cautiously-optimistic-iran-nuclear-talks