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World powers and Iran to resume nuclear talks in February

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[January 13, 2014]  BRUSSELS (Reuters)  World powers and Iran will very likely resume negotiations on the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions in February, shortly after an interim, six-month deal restricting its atomic work goes into effect, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Monday.

The goal of the new round of talks is to find a broad settlement in the decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear program and ease the risk of mistrust leading to deeper tensions or even conflict in the Middle East.

The diplomatic source said the first meeting between Iran and six powers  the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany  would include Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"It won't happen in January, because of the Chinese New Year, but it is very, very, very likely in February," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Senior diplomats from the seven countries, led by the EU, will hold talks ahead of the meeting to prepare an agenda.

Iran says its atomic energy program is aimed purely at electricity generation and other civilian purposes, although past Iranian attempts to hide sensitive nuclear activity from U.N. non-proliferation inspectors raised concerns.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak, editing by Luke Baker and Ralph Boulton)

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