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US praises 'seriousness' of Iran nuclear talks, but says don't expect breakthrough

Iran could reduce uranium enrichment, and agree to 'snap inspections' in exchange for reduced international sanctions against oil, banking.

Zarif iran nuclear talks geneva 10 16 13Enlarge
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to reporters after two days of closed-door nuclear talks on October 16, 2013 in Geneva. World powers poured over what Iran billed as a breakthrough to end the decade-long standoff over its nuclear program amid thawing diplomatic tones, but stark warnings from Israel. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The White House praised the "seriousness and substance" of the nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers that concluded Wednesday.

"The Iranian proposal was a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "Having said that, no one should expect a breakthrough overnight."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and leaders from the P5+1 group ended two days of talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

Iran appeared prepared to make concessions regarding its controversial nuclear program – including the willingness to allow “snap inspections” – provided that foreign governments also agree to allowances.

While there are no firm details about Iran’s offer to the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany, The New York Times reported there were hints Iran would limit uranium enrichment and agree to the inspections.

In return, foreign governments would ease sanctions against Iran, especially in the banking and oil industries.

Iran was not, however, willing to suspend uranium enrichment completely or ship its stockpiles of material abroad, according to Agence France-Presse.

More from GlobalPost: Yes, there are Iranians in Israel; here's what one thinks about nuclear talks

Both sides are hailing the talks as breakthroughs in thawing decades of icy relations. The West is concerned Iran is enriching uranium at its reactors to build nuclear weapons, while Iran counters that its nuclear program is peaceful.

“For the first time, we had very detailed technical discussions, which carried on this afternoon,” a US State Department official told The Times.

The group is scheduled to meet again Nov. 7 and 8 in Geneva.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who headed the discussions, said she’s optimistic a deal can be struck.

She called this week’s discussions the most “substantive” and “detailed” yet.

Even Israel has appeared to take some solace from the meetings, the first since moderate President Hassan Rouhani took power this summer in Iran’s national elections.

Israeli leaders have long maintained that Iran is lulling the world into a false sense of security.

Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said “Israel is watching the talks in Geneva with hope and concern,” Haaretz reported.

However, there are still warnings from Iran that much work needs completing, BBC News said.

“Negotiation and reaching a solution is difficult and ... needs a lot of time and care,” Zarif said on his Facebook page, according to BBC’s translation.

“One cannot expect to remove the mistrust that has been accumulated between the two sides only by a positive and completely constructive meeting.” 

More from GlobalPost: Iran freaking out a bit as world powers meet Iran

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/131016/iran-nuclear-talks-offer-hint-at-breakthrough-agreemen