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Powers welcome US stance on Iran

Image from Fars News Agency purportedly showing Safir-2 rocket
The launch of an Iranian-made satellite sparked fears in the West

Officials from six major powers have welcomed an offer by the US to hold direct talks with Iran about its controversial nuclear programme.

But the envoys from the US, Germany, China, Britain, Russia and France said they would meet again once Washington had fully reviewed its policy on Iran.

The meeting was part of efforts to convince Tehran to halt uranium work.

Iran says its programme is entirely peaceful, but Western powers fear it could be used for military purposes.

The UN has imposed sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment programme.

Reaching out

US President Barack Obama says he may support direct US talks with Iran on the nuclear issue.

A statement issued after Wednesday's talks in the German town of Wiesbaden welcomed the offer.

But the six powers said they would "consult on the next steps as the US administration undertakes a policy review".

In addition to suggesting direct talks, Washington has made it clear that the Iranians will also need to show flexibility.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Iran had an opportunity "to step up and become a productive member of the international community".

Using words from President Obama's inauguration speech, she said the international community was "reaching out a hand to Tehran" but that Iran had to "unclench its fist".

Wednesday's meeting came a day after Tehran announced it had launched its first domestically made satellite.

Iran said the satellite, carried on a Safir-2 rocket, was meant for research and telecommunications.

But the US, UK and France voiced concerns that the technology used could lead to ballistic missile development.



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