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Talks on Iran nuclear deal expected in February

29 January, 2014

NEW YORK/BRUSSELS: The opening round of talks between Iran and six world powers on a long-term deal for Tehran to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual end to sanctions is expected to take place next month in New York, a US official said on Monday.

"It is our understanding that the first round of comprehensive negotiations will be in New York in mid-February with dates still being confirmed," US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in an email. "New York - agreed to by EU High Representative (Catherine) Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister (Mohammad Javad) Zarif - has a similar support infrastructure to Geneva," Harf said. "We believe that United Nations and international support is important for work on a comprehensive agreement."

A senior Western diplomat told Reuters that the six powers were looking at the early part of the week of Feb. 16, though the talks were unlikely to begin before Feb. 18 due to a US holiday. In Washington, congressional aides said an attempt to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program has stalled in the US Congress and lawmakers were discussing whether to introduce a much weaker measure. Last week the United States and the European Union began following through on promised sanctions relief for Iran covering oil exports, trade in precious metals and automotive services as part of a nuclear agreement signed in November that began taking effect on Jan. 20, US officials said.

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