World powers and Iran started the second day of talks in Kazakhstan's commercial hub, Almaty, on Saturday. The talks, aimed at striking a deal in the long-standing dispute over Iran's nuclear program, followed a day of negotiations on Friday that Western diplomats described as disappointing and difficult.
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European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, who is heading the negotiations on behalf of the world powers, held a bilateral meeting Saturday morning with the head of Iran's delegation, Saeed Jalili. Meanwhile, Jalili's deputy, Ali Bagheri, met with the French and German delegations.
A broad meeting with representatives of all six nations - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – and Iran also took place Saturday morning.
The six nations suspect Iran's nuclear program has the covert aim of giving Tehran the capability to make an atom bomb. The Islamic Republic denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says it wants nuclear power for electricity generation and medical purposes.
After Friday's talks, there was little hope of striking a quick deal in the dispute. Western diplomats said Iranian officials' refused to respond to a P5+1 proposal that would restrict the Islamic republic's uranium enrichment in exchange for modest relief from sanctions.
Bagheri said that the Iranian delegation presented the powers with an updated proposal with answers to their offer, but Western diplomats said the Iranians did not present a single clear and serious response regarding the limitation of uranium enrichment.