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Iran, world powers admit scant chance of progress in nuclear talks

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

It's been eight months since they last met, but negotiators representing Iran and six leading industrial powers acknowledged Monday that they may have little new to say to each other when the two sides gather for talks about Iran's nuclear future.

Negotiations on proposed limits for Iran's nuclear program are set to begin on Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where expectations were nearly as low as the frigid temperatures in the former Kazakh capital city. In public comments over the past week, U.S. and Iranian officials alike insisted the onus was on the other side to make key concessions that could lead to a nuclear deal.

Obama administration officials have set a low bar, expressing hopes only that the Almaty meeting will yield cordial engagement and an agreement to hold further talks in the spring and summer. One senior U.S. official, briefing reporters on the eve of the talks, said small steps this week could lead to a breakthrough in the future.

“If Iran engages with us tomorrow and begins to discuss the concrete steps they will take . . . we can move forward,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity. “They can get to where they want to go.”

Iranian politicians, meanwhile, have urged the country's negotiators to concede nothing on Iran's key demand: international recognition of the country's right to develop its nuclear infrastructure, including the capacity to enrich uranium. A statement issued on Sunday by the Iranian parliament warned against compromising on Iran's “inalienable nuclear rights.”

“We propose that the United States and its Western allies accept the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear realities and change their policy of confrontation to interaction,” the statement said.

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