Iran hopes sufficient progress will be made at talks with major powers this week to enable negotiators to start drafting an accord settling a dispute about Tehran's nuclear programme, Iranian media quoted a top Iranian negotiator as saying.
The Islamic Republic and six world powers will hold a fresh round of talks in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday intended to reach a comprehensive agreement by July 20 on how to resolve a decade-old dispute that has stirred fears of a Middle East war.
Iran says its enrichment programme is a peaceful bid to generate electricity and has ruled out shutting any of its nuclear facilities. It denies having any nuclear bomb designs.
Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, a top negotiator, was quoted as saying by Press TV on Sunday: "We hope that in the upcoming talks, we would be able to bring the views closer and narrow the differences regarding major issues, so we could get to the details ... and start writing the text."
The aim of the talks is to hammer out a long-term deal to define the permissible scope of Iran's nuclear programme in return for a lifting of sanctions that are damaging its oil-dependent economy.
In November, Iran and the six nations agreed an interim accord to curb Tehran's atomic activities in exchange for some easing of sanctions. The six-month deal, which took effect on Jan. 20, was designed to buy time for talks on a long-term deal.
Iran has said it had useful expert-level nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna last week, addressing all major technical issues in the way of a final settlement.
Iranian negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad told the official IRNA news agency on Saturday that the results of those technical discussions would be submitted on Monday to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Zarif and Ashton, who acts on behalf of the six world powers - the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain, will lead the negotiations due to take place this week.
Western officials say wide differences remain between the two sides.
(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)