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Iran negotiators see progress in Geneva nuclear talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iranian negotiators said Friday that progress was being made in talks in Geneva with world powers, expressing hope to bridge differences and sign an elusive deal over Tehran's nuclear drive.

"Differences of opinion remain and we are negotiating over them. God willing we will reach a result," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in statements carried by Iranian media, after a one-hour meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, who also attended the meeting, added: "We felt there was progress in the talks today" with the six world powers.

The remarks came after Iranian negotiators said Thursday "no progress" had been made over points of differences in the second day of intensive talks in the Swiss city with the so-called P5+1 group.

"We discussed the issues of difference yesterday, and it was only natural for delegations to confer with their capitals," Zarif said Friday, according to the ISNA news agency.

"In some cases, the consultations have been fruitful," he added without elaborating.

Ravanchi said the talks underway since Wednesday were on a "positive" path, and that the meeting with Ashton had "brought the positions of each side closer".

"The issue of enrichment is a matter of discussion in the talks. We have declared that (enrichment) is our red line and we expect it is respected" in the draft agreement, Ravanchi added.

Iran insists in addition to sanctions relief, the world powers should recognise what it calls its right to enrich uranium -- a demand that has proved a dividing factor in the negotiations.

Another deputy minister, Abbas Araqchi, said on Twitter that "little progress" was made but highlighted the "serious will" in negotiators from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany to resolve the differences.

Zarif echoed the remarks, saying: "The desire to reach a solution -- as we see in the positions (of the P5+1) -- exists."

The talks aim to clinch an elusive agreement to curb Iran's nuclear activities and render it incapable of producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran says its work is only for peaceful purposes and has no military agenda.

Zarif meanwhile hailed the "progress" made in only three rounds of negotiations since mid-October over Iran's nuclear drive -- an international concern for more than a decade.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131122/iran-negotiators-see-progress-geneva-nuclear-talks