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Iran, U.N. Powers Confer on Nuclear Talks Agenda

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stands on Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, the host city of this week's multilateral meeting on Iran's disputed nuclear activities. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stands on Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, the host city of this week's multilateral meeting on Iran's disputed nuclear activities. (Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran and six key nations on Wednesday began a second day of talks on how to go about settling a years-old atomic standoff, Reuters reports.

Western envoys said Iran on Tuesday held a "substantive" and "productive" initial meeting with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany, though the encounter did not promptly settle any major issues dividing the sides. This week's talks are the first in what is expected to be a series of discussions on securing a comprehensive deal to address global fears about the possible arms applications of the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear program, which Iran says are strictly peaceful in nature.

A European envoy said the gathering's first day addressed "the parameters and the process of negotiations, the timetable of what is going to be a medium- to long-term process."

"We don't expect instant results," the official added.

Tuesday's exchange included an 80-minute informal discussion between Iranian representatives and a U.S. team headed by Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the Obama administration's top Iran negotiator, Reuters reported separately.

A high-level U.S. government insider said Sherman's discussion with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi addressed "how the comprehensive talks will proceed from here."

U.S. government personnel on Tuesday pressed for a potential final arrangement to address the nation's ballistic-missile capabilities, challenging Tehran's insistence that the negotiations focus exclusively on its nuclear program, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Also the same day, the Middle Eastern nation said it would not agree to eliminate any of its atomic sites, the Associated Press reported. Washington and its allies have voiced concerns about an unfinished heavy-water reactor that could generate bomb-useful plutonium, as well as an underground uranium-enrichment facility resistant to potential airstrikes.

Wednesday's meeting began under the leadership of Araqchi and Helga Schmid, a deputy to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to Reuters. Ashton has communicated with Iran on behalf of the "P-5+1" nations: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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