Iran, US hold unprecedented nuclear talks

Iran, US hold unprecedented nuclear talks
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a news conference after a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.

UNITED NATIONS - Iran and the United States (US) met for one of their highest level meetings since the 1979 revolution on Thursday as their foreign ministers joined landmark talks on Tehran's suspect nuclear programme.

The talks, involving US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, came just after new Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani called on Israel to admit it has a nuclear bomb.

Chaired by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the meeting brought together the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany in a group dubbed the P5+1.

Smiling broadly, Mr Zarif was sat at the head of the table next to Ms Ashton looking down on the Security Council conference room, with Mr Kerry to the right on an abutting table.

Western powers have approached with caution the overtures made by the new Iranian leadership which took power in August.

"While we do not anticipate that any issues will be resolved during today's P5+1 meeting, we are hopeful that we can continue to chart a path forward," a US State Department official said. "We hope that this new Iranian government will show that it is prepared to engage substantively to address these long standing concerns and we will see today and in months ahead whether they will follow words with action."

It is the first time that Iranian and American ministers have sat together at the talks, aimed at reining in the Islamic republic's nuclear program, which western nations believe is a covert grab for an atomic bomb.

Iran has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only.

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