US on Iran talks: No one should expect breakthrough overnight

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Geneva_ Western diplomats said they were looking forward to hear the Iranian nuclear proposal but sought to lower expectations for any immediate breakthrough at Iran nuclear talks due to get underway here Tuesday.

“No one should expect a breakthrough overnight,” a senior U.S. administration official told journalists in a background briefing in Geneva Monday night. “We have to start somewhere and we hope to start here.”

“The chances of agreement being reached over the next two days is quite low-it’s quite complicated work, but if we can move forward actions that match tones and words,” that would be positive, the offiicial said.

“We hope the Iranians come to the table with a credible proposal,” the U.S. official continued. “We hope we can translate the more positive tone into agreement for how we all intend to move forward.”

Iran did not share its proposal with the P5+1 in advance of the talks, western diplomats said Monday–perhaps one reason for a cautioning on expectations for how much agreement can be achieved here this week.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team had dinner with chief nuclear negotiator, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, at the Iranian ambassador’s residence here Monday night. Zarif did not present her the offer there, an Ashton aide told Al-Monitor.

Zarif is expected to present the Iranian proposal to diplomats from six world powers Tuesday morning at 9:30am. The talks are expected to continue through Wednesday.

International negotiatorss are looking for the Iranian proposal to address three core issues, the US official said.

“We will be looking for specific steps on specific core issues, including on the pace and scope of its enrichment program; the transparency of its overall nuclear program; and its stockpiles of enriched uranium,” the U.S. official said.

(Photo of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zariff arriving in Geneva by Fars News.)