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Iran Talks Getting No Closer, Moscow Says

Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani waves from a bus last month, prior to winning his country's presidential election. A high-level Russian diplomat on Thursday said Tehran and several major governments had made no progress since Rouhani's victory in planning a new multilateral meeting aimed at defusing an international standoff over Iran's nuclear program (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi). Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani waves from a bus last month, prior to winning his country's presidential election. A high-level Russian diplomat on Thursday said Tehran and several major governments had made no progress since Rouhani's victory in planning a new multilateral meeting aimed at defusing an international standoff over Iran's nuclear program (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi).

A coalition of major governments has gotten no closer to restarting dialogue with Iran over its contested nuclear program since a reformist politician won the Middle Eastern nation's presidential vote last month, a senior Russian diplomat said on Thursday.

Former Iranian nuclear envoy Hassan Rouhani's victory in the June 14 poll prompted a degree of new optimism over a moribund negotiations process aimed at resolving fears that Iran's atomic program is geared toward development of a nuclear arms capacity. Tehran insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful, but it has so far ruled out taking a number of steps designed to assure other countries on its assertion.

"There is no agreement now on when and where the next [talks] will be. That worries us," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in comments quoted by Reuters. "After the election of the Iranian president, we stepped up work in preparation for a new round of talks but so far the work is not being done transparently."

The United States is "determined" to seek a peaceful solution to the atomic dispute, a high-level U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday.

"The window for such a solution is open and we intend to pursue it," said Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation. "We are willing to be optimistic about the possibility of a changed policy in Tehran but it needs to be expressed through actual negotiations and not simply with rhetorical statements."

Still, Countryman added: "When he (Rouhani) does take office, we've got no reason to believe that it changes the fact that the unique authority for the nuclear weapons program in Iran [rests] with the supreme leader and not with the office of the president."

Rouhani is scheduled to begin his term on Aug. 3.

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