European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili attend a meeting in Baghdad, May 23, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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09:00 P.M - The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton grimly summed up the third round of nuclear talks with Iran, saying at a press conference in Moscow that the gaps between the Islamic Republic and the six Western powers remain significant and fundamental.

"The choice is Iran's," Ashton said. "We expect Iran to decide whether it is willing to make diplomacy work."

She added that the six Western powers remained united in their position, and that they had once again presented to Iran the package it was offered in the previous round of talks in Baghdad. According to the offer, Iran would stop 20 percent enrichment of uranium, shut down the Fordow nuclear facility and ship out stockpiled highly-enriched nuclear materials.

According to Ashton, Western representatives arrived at the talks prepared to make progress if Iran agrees to the offer. The exchanges, she said, "were detailed, tough and frank… We have begun to tackle critical issues (but) it remains clear that there are significant gaps between the substance of the two positions."

The EU's foreign minister said that on July 3 experts from both sides will meet in Istanbul to discuss the West's proposal and Iran's response. After that meeting, further discussion will take place at a deputy-level between Helga Schmid and Ali Bagheri. "I will then be directly in touch with (Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Dr. Said) Jalili about prospect for a future meeting at the political level," Ashton said.

5:00 P.M - The representatives of Iran and the six Western powers have concluded close to six hours of talks at Moscow's Golden Ring hotel on Tuesday, on the second day of nuclear discussions. So far, it seems that the sides are still far from a breakthrough.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili is currently meeting with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an attempt to make headway.

1:35 P.M. - Iran warned on Tuesday that Western sanctions against the country's oil exports must be lifted and that their right to a civilian nuclear program recognized, or else Tehran could break off negotiations.
Iran's delegation said a negative response from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading six-power group talking with Iran, would mean "the end of the negotiations in its current configuration. (DPA)
1:15 P.M. - The Guardian correspondent Julian Borger who is currently in Moscow tweeted that a senior official in the Iranian delegation told him that the Russian representatives brought up several ideas for bridging the gaps between Iran and the world powers.

11:35 A.M. - The second day of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers started on Tuesday. The head of the Russian negotiating team Sergei Ryabkov updated the rest of the representatives regarding his meeting on Monday morning with the Iranian delegation. Ryabkov told Reuters that he does not fear the collapse of the talks.

"I don't think anything will break down. We will have a reasonable outcome," Ryabkov told Reuters after meeting his counterparts from the six powers in a Moscow hotel on Tuesday.

He had called the two sides' negotiating positions "rather difficult and tough to reconcile" on Monday.

11:00 A.M. - Head Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov will meet with head Iranian negotiator Sayed Jalili this morning in an attempt to bring about a breakthrough in the talks. On Monday, Jalili spent several hours in talks with Nikolai Patrushev, Russian President Putin's national security adviser.

Blogger Laura Rozen, who is covering the talks from Moscow, quoted a Western diplomat who cited persistent gaps in the two sides' positions. "It's not enough, it's not close to enough," the diplomat said.

According to the diplomat, the Iranians presented their position using Power Point slides on Monday, but did not offer any new positions or signs of flexibility regarding their demand to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent.

10:30 A.M. - Iranian officials and representatives of the six powers are scheduled to renew their talks at 11 A.M. on Tuesday morning at Moscow's Golden Ring Hotel.

Several hours before the renewal of talks, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin released a joint statement calling on Iran to prove to the international community that its nuclear program is meant for strictly peaceful purposes.

In their statement, released after a meeting at the G20 summit in Mexico, the two leaders called on Iran to fully honor its obligations as outlined in UN Security Council's resolution. Both leaders emphasized their recognition of Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear energy program, but said Iran must make serious efforts to restore the trust of the international community.