Powers seek 'first step' nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva talks

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani takes questions from journalists during a news conference in New YorkBy Justyna Pawlak and Fredrik Dahl GENEVA (Reuters) – World powers will seek to hammer out a breakthrough deal with Iran to start resolving a decade-old dispute over its nuclear program in two-day talks that begin on Thursday, though both sides say an agreement is far from certain. The United States and its allies say they are encouraged by Tehran’s shift to friendlier rhetoric after years of hostility since the June election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to repair ties with the West and win sanctions relief. But they stress Iran needs to back its words with action and take concrete steps to scale back its atomic work, which they suspect has covert military aims, a charge Tehran denies. “What we’re looking for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward and rolls it back for the first time in decades,” a senior U.S. official told reporters on the eve of the talks.

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