Ashton and Jalili in Istanbul

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers resumed today after 15 months, with diplomats expressing more positive assessments of the negotiations so far.

Reuters reports that the first round of nuclear talks were held in Istanbul today between Iran and the G5+1, comprised of U.S., Russian, British, Chinese, French and German representatives together with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Michael Mann, Ashton’s spokesman, said: “There is a positive atmosphere…contrasting with the last time.”

Diplomats had already set the bar low for this round of meetings, expecting only that Iran would give signs that it was ready to engage in serious talks, rather than immediately aiming for detailed proposals from either side.

Mann added: “The principles for future talks seem to be there.”

Other diplomats have mentioned that Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator, appears to be intent on promoting a rigorous negotiation process.

Reuters cites diplomatic sources saying that Western countries will not state their demands in the first meeting. However, it is generally accepted that the focus of the negotiations will be Iran’s uranium-enrichment activities.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it enriches uranium solely to provide fuel for its nuclear reactors.

Iran’s readiness to negotiate has been backed by Fereydoon Abbasi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Agency, who has said that Iran can suspend uranium enrichment as soon as it has enough fuel for Tehran’s research reactor.