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Iran, World Powers Trade Proposals at Nuclear Talks

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili pose for the media before their meeting in Baghdad May 23, 2012.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili pose for the media before their meeting in Baghdad May 23, 2012.
Iran and world powers exchanged proposals Wednesday at a Baghdad meeting aimed at resolving international concerns about potential military dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program.

The state-run IRNA news agency says Iranian negotiators presented a five-point proposal addressing nuclear and non-nuclear issues on Wednesday, shortly after the world powers opened the meeting with their own proposal.

IRNA says both sides made their presentations orally and plan to hold a second day of talks on Thursday.


IRNA criticized the proposal from the six-nation group, saying it makes too many demands of Iran while offering too little in return.

An EU spokesman said the six-nation proposal addresses the group's concern about Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

Iran says its enrichment work is meant for medical research and generating electricity. Western nations fear Iran could quickly upgrade its uranium to the 90 percent purity needed for nuclear weapons.

Baghdad University professor Said Dahdhoh told VOA's Kurdish service that Iran wants the talks to be comprehensive and focus on more than just the nuclear dispute. He said Tehran also wants the West to clarify its stand on Bahrain and other regional issues.

Shi'ite majority Iran has strongly criticized plans by the minority Sunni rulers of predominantly Shi'ite Bahrain to seek a political union with Sunni-dominated Gulf states. Bahrain's ruling family is a U.S. ally that provides the U.S. Navy with a key regional base.


World powers, however, have insisted for months that talks focus solely on the disputes with Iran's nuclear program.

EU spokesman Michael Mann gave no other details of the proposal by the six-nation delegation, which is led by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The group includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

This is the second round of a dialogue that resumed last month in Istanbul after a break of more than a year.

Published reports say the six-nation group is reviving a 2009 proposal for Iran to ship out its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium in return for higher-enriched fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Iran is seeking pledges from the world powers to ease U.N. and Western sanctions imposed on the country for defying international demands for a suspension of enrichment.


Mann said he does not expect any "dramatic happenings" in Baghdad.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow believes Iran is ready to seek an agreement with the six-nation group on concrete actions to resolve the nuclear dispute. He made the comment in Moscow.

Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence and refuses to rule out military action against the Iranian nuclear program.

Israeli officials have urged the world powers not to compromise on their demand for a stop to Iranian enrichment work. Those officials also have expressed concern that Iran will make empty promises of concessions to buy more time to covertly develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday that Western policies of pressure and intimidation toward Iran are futile. Speaking in Tehran, he said the West must adopt policies that show good will.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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