Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (L) and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
Representatives from Iran and six world powers are meeting in
Turkey to discuss Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
The two-day talks include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, a group known as the P5 + 1. Iranian officials say the talks started in a "positive atmosphere," despite the fact Iran has refused to discuss any suspension of its nuclear enrichment activities.
A U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner says the United States does not expect any "big breakthroughs" in Istanbul. But he says U.S. negotiators are willing to discuss a nuclear fuel swap proposal updated to reflect Iran's progress in enrichment since 2009.
Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Thursday the country is ready to discuss a possible fuel swap to run its reactors.
He said world powers need to move quickly on such a deal because Tehran would have no need for the agreement once it begins putting its own 20 percent enriched uranium into its reactors.
Under a proposal brokered last year by Brazil and Turkey, Iran would exchange low-enriched uranium for fuel specially processed to run a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes.
World leaders are hoping to address concerns that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran is facing Western sanctions because of its nuclear program.
Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said Thursday in Istanbul the IAEA has repeatedly verified that his country's atomic program does not violate non-proliferation treaties.
At a Thursday news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned the U.S. and other Western powers against imposing any more unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying the move would be "counterproductive."
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