January 21, 2011

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Talks between Iran and world powers seeking to persuade the Islamic Republic to curb its nuclear program came close to collapse on Friday, but would resume on Saturday, a western official said.

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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton convinced the Iranian delegation to remain at the talks, which will go into a second day on Saturday with little prospect of concrete progress beyond entrenched positions in the eight-year-old dispute.

The West suspects Iran plans to develop a nuclear weapon but Tehran insists its atomic energy program is peaceful and that it has a right to enrich uranium to power its nuclear reactors.

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“We had been preparing for the possibility of a potential collapse,” the western diplomat said, crediting the tough line taken by Ashton and the unity of the six powers.

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