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Russia says Iran nuclear talks were 'quite promising'

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices

MOSCOW (Reuters) - International talks this week on Iran's nuclear program were "quite promising" and Tehran's new proposals could produce progress toward ending the standoff between global powers and the Islamic state, Russia said on Thursday.

"I would not understate the importance of this round," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said of Iran's talks in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday with Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany.

"In our view, although it was very tough, it was quite, quite promising," Lukashevich said at a weekly briefing.

Iran's new proposals "could move the negotiating process forward, and are evidence of the Iranian side's intention to ... resolve the issues that are of concern to the six powers," he said. He gave no details of the proposals.

Lukashevich sounded more upbeat than Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian negotiator at the talks in Geneva, who said on Wednesday that the sides were far apart and there was no guarantee of further progress.

Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant and sells Iran weapons, has in the past been more positive than the West about Iran's attitude toward the negotiations and less suspicious that it could be seeking nuclear weapons capability.

The United States on Wednesday described two days of nuclear negotiations with Iran as the most serious and candid to date after Western diplomats said Tehran hinted it was ready to scale back sensitive atomic activities to secure urgent sanctions relief.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Patrick Graham)

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