Iran agrees to nuclear inspections, more talks with US and allies

The announcements came alongside a direct meeting -- the first of its kind in 30 years -- between United States Under Secretary of State William Burns and his Iranian counterpart Saeed Jalili on Thursday.

After 14 months of stalled talks, the session in Geneva was seen as a first step towards further negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme, which has been raised as a major international security concern by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.

"We had a good day of talks with the Iranian delegation," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said, adding he hoped for an "intensive process" in the future. Iran agreed to cooperate "fully and immediately" with the UN nuclear monitoring body -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Solana said.

Speaking in Washington, US President Barack Obama called the talks "constructive" but cautioned Tehran must take concrete steps to assure the world that its nuclear activities were peaceful and that US patience was "not unlimited".

Solana said the full participation of the US was critical to the discussions, allowing all the powers to put forward their concerns directly to Iran. For the Iranians, a "framework" for future discussions with Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany still needs to be hammered out.

IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei will visit Tehran this weekend to start the process of arranging for UN inspectors to reach the sites in Iran in two weeks, according to Western officials, though Jalili would not be drawn into outlining a timeline.

"I said that regarding all activities we have in nuclear issues, all of these are in coordination with the agency," Jalili said after the talks, adding that "every state and country has the right to peaceful nuclear energy".

The six nations are concerned that some of Iran's programmes, if further developed, could be used to create nuclear weapons. Western powers have threatened more sanctions against the Islamic republic if it does not stop uranium enrichment.

"If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely and we are prepared to move toward increased pressure," Obama said.

At the talks in Geneva, Iran agreed to consider sending low enriched uranium to foreign countries for further enrichment so that it could be put to medical use after it was re-imported.

The details of shipping the uranium to Russia and then France would be negotiated October 18 in Vienna, where the IAEA is based. US officials said Iran still had to take more "concrete, practical, confidence-building steps", but that "Iran engaged on its programme today", in reference to the nuclear project.

However, the Western powers still want Iran to "come clean" on the entirety of its programme, including research documents. After initial signs that the Iranian chief nuclear negotiator would refuse to speak about his country's specific programmes, the conclusion, though vague, was taken by the nuclear powers as a sign of some progress.

"No one expected one day would resolve everything," a US official said. Further sanctions against Iran, Western diplomats said, were left mostly off the agenda, as they awaited the results of anticipated inspections and the next round of talks set for the end of the month.

The US has said it does not oppose Iran having peaceful nuclear capacities, but remained concerned that Tehran was not being forthcoming about its full ambitions, particularly after an undisclosed nuclear site was revealed last week.

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