Iran says negotiation agenda agreed in nuclear talks with powers

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Iran and six world powers have agreed on an agenda for negotiations over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme and will meet again in March in Vienna, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying.

Negotiators from Iran and the powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - have been meeting since Tuesday in the Austrian capital to hammer out an agenda for reaching an ambitious final settlement to the decade-old standoff over Tehran's atomic activities.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the official IRNA news agency: "The involved parties have agreed on an agenda and a framework and the next round of talks will be in the second half of March in Vienna."

A senior US state department official earlier said about the second day of talks on Wednesday: "Today's discussions, which covered both process and substance, were constructive and useful."

Officials from the six powers were not immediately available for comment on Araqchi's statement to IRNA.

The meeting was due to resume on Thursday morning, expected to be followed by a news conference.

The six powers want a long-term agreement on the permissible scope of Iran's nuclear activities to lay to rest concerns that they could be put to developing atomic bombs. Tehran's priority is a complete removal of damaging economic sanctions against it.

The negotiations will probably extend at least over several months and could help defuse many years of hostility between energy-exporting Iran and the West, ease the danger of a new war in the Middle East, transform the regional power balance and open up major business opportunities for Western firms.

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