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Iran, World Powers Continue 'Serious' Nuclear Talks

Diplomats from Iran and six world powers are continuing talks Wednesday about proposals to address a decade-long standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

Both sides praised the first day of negotiations Tuesday in Geneva, where Iran's foreign minister outlined technical aspects of a new plan aimed at assuring the international community its nuclear program is peaceful. In exchange, Iran is seeking relief from international sanctions imposed to try to force it to halt uranium enrichment activities.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Wednesday as saying Iran's proposal is a multi-phase plan that includes allowing unannounced inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The meeting includes officials from the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, in addition to Iran.

The Geneva talks, the first since relative moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran's president in June, are widely seen as the best chance in years to defuse a stand-off over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is not part of these talks, said Wednesday he felt the opening day of talks was "useful" and featured what he called "serious discussion."

"There's a real opportunity to make progress in these talks and I urge Iran to seize that opportunity both today and in the weeks to come."

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Hague also welcomed Iran's overtures to better engage the world since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, but said that what matters going forward is the country's actions.

"Now we need to see that matched by actions, by real concrete change in the nuclear program, and so any decisions about sanctions must be related to decisions or actual developments, positive developments, in the way that Iran pursues its nuclear program."

Iranian President Rouhani has promised to lead a diplomatic effort to get economic sanctions against Iran eased, but P5+1 officials have said Iran must prove its sincerity through concrete steps before that will happen.

In previous negotiations, world powers called for Iran to give up its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity and send it abroad. Uranium of that purity is a short technical step away from being converted to weapons-grade material.

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