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U.S. delegation to Iran talks includes sanctions expert

U. S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrives for a meeting on Syria at the United Nations European headquarter
U. S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrives for a meeting on Syria at the United Nations European headquarter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. delegation to next week's talks about Iran's nuclear program includes one of the U.S. government's leading sanctions experts, a hint that Washington may be giving greater thought to how it might ease sanctions on Tehran.

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, effectively the State Department's third-ranking diplomat, will lead the U.S. delegation to negotiations between Iran and six major powers in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday, the State Department said.

The central issue at the talks, which will involve Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States and Iran, will be to explore what, if any, steps Iran might take to curb its nuclear program and what, if any, sanctions relief the major powers may offer in return.

Western powers are concerned that Iran is seeking to develop atomic bombs. Iran denies that, saying its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The U.S. delegation will include Adam Szubin, the director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, and among the U.S. government's foremost experts on sanctions.

Szubin has led OFAC since 2006 and is responsible for administering and enforcing the U.S. government's economic sanctions programs to advance foreign policy and national security objectives.

The U.S. team also includes James Timbie, senior adviser to the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security; Puneet Talwar, senior director for Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States on the White House National Security Staff; and Richard Nephew, principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the State Department, a U.S. official said.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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