Upbeat mood as Iran nuclear talks start in Geneva
Iran has said its proposal to nuclear talks in Geneva has the "capacity to make a breakthrough".
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said world powers were receptive to his plans, but negotiators had agreed to keep the details confidential for now.
Teams from Iran and six other nations are holding two days of discussions in Geneva on Iran's nuclear future.
The West suspects Iran of seeking a nuclear arms capability and currently imposes punishing sanctions against it.
Tehran denies the West's claim, saying its nuclear programme is peaceful.
These are the first talks since Hassan Rouhani became Iran's president in August.
President Rouhani is seen as more moderate than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and there may be more chance of a deal during these talks than in the past.'Businesslike talks'
The immediate fate of Iran's place in the world may be decided by the PowerPoint file on its foreign minister's laptop.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was photographed on his flight to Geneva working on the laptop. He was also pictured lying under a blanket, suffering from a bad back.
This morning, Mr Zarif ignored the back pain he's been complaining about on Facebook and took his laptop into the negotiating room. He used it to deliver an hour-long presentation entitled "An end to unnecessary crisis and a start for new horizons".
We don't yet know the detail of what Iran proposed. Iranian state media say Mr Zarif's presentation included five stages beginning with a six-month trust-building period.
The world powers have described Iran's presentation as very useful. During the afternoon they held detailed technical discussions - something they have not done for many months.
Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters that Iranian officials had presented their proposal in PowerPoint format.
He said there was a sense of "cautious optimism" as the closed-door talks began on Tuesday.
Mr Mann later added: "For the first time, very detailed technical discussions continued this afternoon. High Representative Ashton will now have a bilateral with Minister Zarif and we will continue our discussions tomorrow (Wednesday) morning."
Mr Araqchi said the first day of talks "went well", according to Reuters news agency.
"We had very constructive, very good exchange of views, very serious. It was, I can say, very businesslike."
But Mr Araqchi added: "It's too soon to judge."
The Iranian state-run Irinn news channel said Tehran was offering to reduce its level of uranium enrichment - a key UN demand.
Late on Tuesday, Mr Araqchi held bilateral talks with US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
The Iranian team is led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, although much of the actual negotiating is expected to be delegated to Mr Araqchi .
The discussions bring together Iran officials and representatives of the "P5+1 group", made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany.
In a Facebook entry posted at the weekend, Mr Zarif said the talks were the "start of a difficult and relatively time-consuming way forward".
"I am hopeful that by Wednesday we can reach agreement on a roadmap to find a path towards resolution," he added.
International negotiators want Tehran to take specific steps to prevent it from ever being able to make nuclear weapons, the BBC's James Reynolds in Geneva reports.
Previous negotiating stances
In April 2013, the P5+1 proposed that Iran should:
- Cease uranium enrichment to 20%, a threshold that could lead to weapons capability
- Ship most of stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium abroad, keeping some for Tehran research reactor
- Accept a comprehensive verification regime
- Address questions about military research activity
Iran responded by demanding P5+1 should:
- Recognise Iran's "right" to enrich uranium
- Ease all UN, US and EU sanctions
In return, they promise to lift some of the international sanctions which have been imposed in recent years.
However, the West has hinted that it will be difficult to clinch a deal in just two days of talks.
"No-one should expect a breakthrough overnight," said a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity.Uranium pledge
Western nations have demanded that Iran halt the production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20% - a step away from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.
They also want Iran to send some of its stockpiles abroad, and shut down the Fordo production site near the city of Qom, where most of the higher-grade enrichment work is done.
Since 2006 the UN Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions - including asset freezes and travel bans - on entities and people involved in Iran's nuclear programme.
Iranian media reactions
- State-run Channel One TV: "America... has shown an inconsistent position: at times it has talked about Iran's nuclear rights, while on other occasions it has talked of the military option being on the table."
- Hardline daily Keyhan: "The current atmosphere of romance and delusion does not reflect reality. America is not seeking reconciliation but is after destroying Iran's dignity and pride."
- Conservative daily Javan: "The negotiating parties should keep in mind that the opportunity to reach an agreement with Iran may not arise again in the future."
- Moderate daily Arman: "The fact that the talks are taking place and a preliminary agreement on further talks may be reached should be seen as progress in Iran's nuclear negotiations."
Separate US and the European Union sanctions have targeted Iran's energy and banking sectors, crippling its oil-based economy.
Iran wants the sanctions lifted.
Mr Araqchi insisted on Sunday that there could be no question of Iran relinquishing its stockpiles of enriched uranium.
"We will not allow even a gram of uranium to go out of the country," he said in comments quoted on the website of Iranian state TV.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would be wrong to ease pressure on Tehran.
He told MPs that any move to let up on the Iranian government would only strengthen its "uncompromising elements", and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "will be perceived as the winner".
In reference to the current sanctions, he said it would be "a historical mistake" to lift them.
But in the US - which has also shown a tough stance against lifting sanctions on Iran - nine leading senators said they were open to the idea of suspending new sanctions if Tehran took significant steps to slow its nuclear programme.