Six world powers ended two days of talks with Iran on its nuclear program without a breakthrough on Wednesday, but agreed to meet in Istanbul next month and resume negotiations in Kazakhstan on April 5.
The six powers - France, Germany, the United States, China Russia and Britain - offered at the talks to lift some sanctions if Iran scaled back nuclear activity that the West fears could be used to build a bomb.
Tehran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, did not agree to do so and the sides did not appear any closer to an agreement to resolve a decade-old dispute that could lead to another war in the Middle East if diplomacy fails.
But Iran said the talks were a positive step in which the six powers tried to "get closer to our viewpoint", and Western diplomats had set their sights low, making clear that an agreement to meet again soon would be deemed a success.
In particular, they are aware that the closeness of Iran's presidential election in June is raising political tensions in Tehran and makes significant concessions unlikely.
"I hope the Iranian side is looking positively on the proposal we put forward," said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led the talks on behalf of the six powers. "We have to see what happens next."...FYI, Cathy, with the Feckless Six having no qualms about being led down the garden path by fanatical twelvers, here's what happens next: