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White House considers unfreezing Iranian funds

The Obama administration is mulling over freeing billions of dollars of Iranian assets in installments as part of the confidence building process proposes by Tehran to end its nuclear standoff with the West, revealed a senior administration official in the White House.

US officials are contemplating unfreezing some of the tens of billions dollars of Iranian assets in blocked accounts around the world, to give them bargaining chips to take the table with Iran, now that substantive negotiations have finally begun, the New York Times reports.

A senior White House official briefed the New York Times on the proposal after talks in Geneva between the Iranian government of new president Hassan Rouhani and the six-nation bloc known as the P5+1.

Despite the Obama administration referring to the talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers as the most detailed and serious to date, Washington remains reluctant to scale back sanctions without actions on the ground from Iran. However, the Times quoted Obama administration officials as saying that they are urging the US Senate to refrain from passing new oil industry sanctions against Tehran prior to the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled for November 7-8 in Geneva.

Few details have emerged from the talks in Geneva this week, but in a sign of a dramatic shift from confrontation to dialogue, the two sides issued a joint statement to say that Tehran's proposals presented at the meeting were an "important contribution". 

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