WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major powers want the Iranians to outline steps to show that they have abandoned any pursuit of nuclear arms, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday ahead of weekend talks on Iran's nuclear program.
"We are receiving signals that they are bringing ideas to the table," Clinton told reporters ahead of this Saturday's talks in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. "We want them to demonstrate, clearly, in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition."
The P5+1 group - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- will meet with Iran for the first time in more than a year, hoping Tehran will give enough ground on its nuclear program to extend negotiations and avert the possibility of an Israeli or U.S. military strike on Iran.
Israel has hinted at military action against Iran, arguing time is running out to stop it developing atomic arms; Iran says it could retaliate by closing a major oil shipping thoroughfare, aware that would push up crude prices and hit the world economy.
The West hopes that tough sanctions on Iran's oil exports that are taking effect this year will persuade Tehran to take meaningful steps - possibly on ending higher levels of uranium enrichment.
"We are looking for concrete results. And of course, in a negotiation, we understand that the Iranians will be asking for assurances or actions from us and we will certainly take those under consideration," Clinton said, without providing details.
"But I do think it is clear to everyone, certainly in the P5+1 but far beyond, that the diplomatic window for negotiations is open but will not remain open forever and therefore time is a matter to be taken into account," she added.
"We want to get started this weekend and we will certainly proceed in a very expeditious, diligent manner (and in) a sustained way to determine whether there is the potential for an agreement," Clinton said.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Vicki Allen and Cynthia Osterman)