Feb. 18 - Six world powers and Iran begin talks in pursuit of a final settlement on Tehran's contested nuclear program in the coming months, despite caveats from both sides that a breakthrough deal may prove impossible. Mana Rabiee reports.
Iran and world powers met in Vienna on Tuesday. They're hoping to hammer in the coming months a final settlement on Tehran's disputed nuclear program. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRANIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, ABBAS ARAQCHI, COMING OUT OF OFFICE SURROUNDED BY MEDIA, SAYING: "We just had a very good beginning. That was all. Thank you." It's the first round of high-level talks since a breakthrough interim agreement in November. That deal stopped a decades-long slide towards outright conflict. But both sides are non committal about the outcome, including the spokesman for European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who's overseeing the talks. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF CATHERINE ASHTON'S SPOKESMAN, MICHAEL MANN, SAYING: "It's impossible for me to say now, at this point, what the result would be at the end of this particular round, I'm afraid." Any deal needs the approval of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei. On Monday, he told his supporters he doesn't oppose this delicate diplomacy but that the talks won't actually "lead anywhere." (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER, AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, SAYING: "Even if the nuclear issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Americans one day, which is extremely unlikely, another issue will follow again. Just observe now that the U.S. government speakers are raising human rights issues, missile issues, weapons issues and so on." The stakes are huge. If successful, a deal could defuse years of hostility between Iran and the West. And ease the danger of a new war in the Mid East.