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Upbeat end to Iran nuclear talks

High-stakes nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers have adjourned on an upbeat note, with the EU's top diplomat calling them "very important."

Iran's foreign minister spoke of a possible "new phase" that would ease a decade of tensions over fears that his country wanted a nuclear bomb.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton did not go into details on the substance of the talks. But she read a statement endorsed by both Iran and the six countries, calling the talks "substantive and forward looking."

The two sides will meet again in Geneva on November 7-8.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped the results achieved over two days of talks "will hopefully be the beginning of a new phase" in relations between Iran and the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

"We have reached a serious stage in the talks," he said.

The lack of immediate details on what was achieved, however, made it difficult to evaluate the amount of progress made in what has been a decade of deadlocked negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran's proposal focused on demands its uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used to make nuclear arms be stopped or reduced.

Iran wants painful international sanctions to be lifted in exchange for possible concessions it had been previously unwilling to consider. Those could be increased international monitoring of its nuclear programme and the scaling back of its uranium enrichment plans - a potential pathway to nuclear arms and the centerpiece of its impasse with the West.

Tehran insists it has no interest in weapons production. Still, it has resisted both enticements and sanctions from world powers designed to force it into ending uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used to make weapons.

But negotiations now appear to be driven by the new approach since reformist President Hassan Rouhani was elected in June.

A member of one of the delegations at the talks said the new Iranian plan offered reductions in both the levels of uranium enrichment being conducted by Iran and the number of centrifuges doing the enrichment - a key demand of the six powers.

An Iranian official said any plan would be implemented in three stages, lasting from six months to a year.

-AP

The White House said the Iranian proposal addressing its nuclear programme is useful and contains a "level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before".

White House spokesman Jay Carney said not to expect a prompt breakthrough in the high-level nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers but he added : "We found the Iranian presentation very useful."

He said that the deal must prove to the international community that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

AP

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