Iranian President Hassan Rohani.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani arrives to meet with members of a group of ex-global leaders known as the Elders, in Tehran on January 28, 2014. Photo by AFP
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Six world powers and Iran will begin talks in Vienna on February 18 on a long term deal for Tehran to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual end to sanctions, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday.

"We have agreed that we will start the talks on February 18 at the UN building in Vienna," Ashton said after talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich security conference.

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 January 20, U.S. officials said.

In exchange for steps that Tehran had taken to halt its most sensitive nuclear-related activity, the White House said the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union will "follow through on our commitment to begin to provide the modest relief agreed to with Iran."

Tehran rejects allegations from Western nations and their allies that it is seeking the capability to produce nuclear arms, insisting its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.

The November 24 interim deal between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany took nearly two months to hammer out in three rounds of talks in Geneva late last year. Western diplomats say that negotiations on a long-term deal will likely take much longer.