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      Iran Says Talks with World Powers Will Resume

      Iranian deputy foreign minister says Tehran will resume negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program in the coming days.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/18/2013, 3:10 AM

      Bushehr nuclear power plant
      Bushehr nuclear power plant
      AFP photo

      Tehran will resume negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program in the coming days, Iran's chief negotiator told a Belgian newspaper Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.

      Iran broke off talks last week after Washington expanded its Iranian sanctions blacklist despite an interim deal reached in Geneva on curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for some sanctions relief.

      Washington’s move last week blacklisted a dozen overseas companies and individuals for evading the sanctions that were imposed on the Islamic Republic.

      On Tuesday, however, Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the daily Soir that the EU's Catherine Ashton had assured him that world powers remained committed to implementing the interim deal.

      "On the basis of these explanations, we have decided to resume technical negotiations in Vienna," Araqchi was quoted by AFP as having said.

      "We are trying at the moment to coordinate a date for that and we will start the negotiations in Vienna soon. It's a question of days," he added.

      Under the Geneva deal, Iran agreed that it would freeze parts of its contested nuclear program in return for some relief from Western sanctions as it negotiates a comprehensive accord to allay suspicions that it is seeking the atomic bomb.

      The United States also agreed to refrain from slapping new sanctions on Iran.

      Senior American officials argued that last week’s move was taken under an existing sanctions regime, but the measures angered Tehran and prompted its negotiating team to withdraw from the talks in Vienna.

      On Tuesday, Araqchi said the U.S. move remains of "serious concern, it's against the spirit of the deal."

      "We agreed to move on the basis of good will and good faith. And to add these new companies to the list of sanctions, it's not goodwill," he said.

      On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said his country will keep talking with world powers on its disputed nuclear program despite the U.S. blacklist.

      Zarif has previously warned that if the United States imposes any new sanctions on his country, the nuclear deal reached in Geneva would be “dead”.

      The blacklisting of the companies last Thursday came as two top senators bowed to White House pleas not to introduce new sanctions and House lawmakers admitted that a new Iran sanctions measure currently under consideration by the Senate is “all but dead in the water.”

      The fact that Senators are holding off on the sanctions is a victory for the Obama administration, which has waged an aggressive campaign to convince lawmakers to postpone passing new sanctions on Iran.