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Iran nuclear talks resume in Kazakhstan


A new round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) opens in the Kazakhstan city of Almaty on Friday as the sides are struggling to find a compromise on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

At the previous round of talks on Feb. 27-28, also held in Almaty, the world powers offered to ease economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for the closure of its underground Fordo enrichment facility and an undertaking to halt the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.

The Islamic Republic demands that the international community recognize its inherent right to develop nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes, while P5+1 negotiators insist that Tehran must first prove that its nuclear development program is not designed for making nuclear weapons.

Both sides expressed cautious optimism prior to the new talks, hoping to make concrete steps to end the long-running standoff.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the slow pace of the nuclear talks with Iran, and stressed the need for the new meeting to show a meaningful progress in the negotiations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich earlier said that "positions, considerations and approaches have been exchanged in depth and at a good professional level, which is encouraging," but "the process has not yet entered the stage where solutions to existing problems can be worked out."

The Russian delegation at the talks is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.