American diplomats are gearing up to carefully broach the topic of Tehran’s nuclear program with their Iranian counterparts during a summit on the subject in Geneva on Thursday, thus potentially going further than President Obama had been able to venture in earlier negotiation efforts. –KA

The Washington Post:

President Obama has sought to make engagement with the Islamic Republic and other antagonistic nations a central part of his foreign policy, but until now Iran has spurned his efforts. Thursday’s talks are intended to launch a process that could rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and possibly reorient Iran’s role in the world, though U.S. officials are skeptical Tehran will act decisively, especially at this initial stage.

Nevertheless, the talks here could be the most substantial and in-depth conversation between the United States and Iran since relations were severed after the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. The chief U.S. negotiator, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, is a career diplomat who joined in similar major-power talks last July in the final months of the Bush administration, but was barely permitted to speak under rules set by the White House.

“We are committed to meaningful negotiations to resolve what are growing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear problem,” the official said Wednesday. But, he added, “This cannot be an open-ended process, more talks for the sake of talks,” especially after the revelation last week that Iran has a second uranium-enrichment plant under construction. “We need to see practical steps and measurable results and we need to see them starting quickly.”

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