The day's negotiations in Moscow were described as "intense and tough."
MOSCOW - A tense first day of talks between Iran and six world powers broke no new ground Monday, offering little hope that the negotiations will defuse the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Iran has signaled it may be willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which is considered a technical step short of bomb-grade, but seeks a weighty political message in return: an acknowledgment from the international community that it has the right to enrich uranium.
It is also hoping for the rollback of tough sanctions by the European Union and United States due to take effect in the coming weeks, which will further isolate Tehran from world oil and banking markets.
Iran received no such assurances Monday from the six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and Germany.
A spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, who is the lead negotiator with Iran for the so-called P5-plus-1 countries, described Monday's talks as "intense and tough." In an afternoon session, Iranian negotiators picked apart the enticements that the P5-plus-1 group first offered last month at talks in Baghdad. The offer includes parts for old U.S. civilian aircraft and fuel for an Iranian nuclear reactor, with the promise of more sanctions relief in return for specific Iranian actions to come into compliance over time.
"They responded to our package of proposals from Baghdad, but, in doing so, brought up lots of questions and well-known positions, including past grievances," said Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann. "We are not there. We have to have further discussions tomorrow, based upon overnight reflections."
Mann said the six powers were not offering to delay or waive sanctions until Iran has proved its willingness to comply with international agreements. "Sanctions policy by definition is always under review, but can only be eased in response to real changes on the ground," he said.