Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of Iran's National Security Council, on Friday in Istanbul
1445 GMT: Nuclear Watch. In contrast to the full account of this morning's discussions leaked by Western diplomats to The Guardian (see 1355 GMT), Iranian outlet Fars has no detail in its report, "Iran, World Powers End 1st Round of Talks in Istanbul"; however, the site does establish that there will be no second day in Turkey, quoting Ali Baqeri, the Undersecretary of the Iranian National Secretary Council.
Instead, Tehran will be looking for agreement on a second round of talks in its preferred location of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, an Iranian official drew a line across an otherwise "positive" day of talks --- he denied that the Islamic Republic's delegation agreed to a US request for a bilateral discussion.
1425 GMT: Labour Front. A labour activist has said that a request from the Ministry of Interior for a permit to march on 1 May has been granted, but only at remote locations in Tehran to discourage workers from participating.
The session was opened by the EU [European Union] high representative for foreign policy, Cathy Ashton, who spent 15 minutes recalling the history of the off-on talks between Iran and the international community on the Iranian programme. Then [Iran's lead negotiator Saeed] Jalili replied and this is how a diplomat in the room described his speech: "It was not long or bombastic or propagandistic. The tone was calm and constructive. He said he was ready to seriously engage on the Iranian nuclear issue. There was no long prayer to the Mahdi."
Ashton then spoke again, pointing out that there was common ground at the talks represented by Iran's emphatic statements that the country had no interest in developing a nuclear weapon, and that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was the basis for any agreement, guaranteeing Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Then the senior diplomats from the six powers had their say. Russia recalled more of the history of negotiations. The French insisted on the primacy of compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. The Chinese recalled the old Lao Tzu proverb about a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step, the US said that relations between Washington and Tehran need not be so bad. The Germans made some general points, and the British summed up, saying this was not one of the world's insoluble problems. There was a possible solution.
Jalili disagreed with some of the points made but in the words of a diplomat present, the Iranian phrased the disagreement in non-confrontational terms, not accusing the other six nations of "oppression" as Jalili did on the last occasion. He said that the Iranian people needed their confidence restored in negotiations, but were willing to talk. He ended with a call to set up a process of structured negotiations.
1253 GMT: Nuclear Watch. More on the line for the press of a "positive" start to the nuclear talks in Istanbul....
Michael Mann, the spokesman for European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said of this morning's 2 1/2-hour discussion between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, "They met in a constructive atmosphere. We had a positive feeling that they did want to engage."
Journalist Barbara Slavin adds this context from informal discussions on Friday between Tehran's lead negotiator Saeed Jalili and Ashton, as well as Jalili's talks with the Turkish Foreign Minister and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister:
#iran source says last nights jalili dinner very constructive; predicts extension of talks into sunday and a second round late may— Barbara Slavin (@barbaraslavin1) April 14, 2012
1205 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The first whiff of rhetoric for the press amidst the nuclear discussions in Istanabul --- during a break between today's two sessions, European representatives are saying they were "constructive" with the Iranian negotiators showing "serious engagement".
AFP is reporting that the US delegation has requested a bilateral meeting with Iranian counterparts.
1125 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi has said that websites that hamper the second round of the Parliamentary elections, scheduled for 4 May, will be filtered.
Doulatabadi also had a warning for opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrest since February 2011, saying they should return to the nezam (system) before it is too late.
1115 GMT: Economy Watch. Prominent MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam has claimed that the Government has sold $53 billion of its reserves for support payments to cover the higher prices of subsidy cuts. He warned that the effects would be visible within six months with higher inflation.
Green Voice of Freedom writes that Iran imported $22 million of clothing from March 2011 to March 2012, an increase of 11.6% over the previous year, threatening local production.
1005 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Activist Kouhyar Goudarzi, freed on bail on Thursday after 8 1/2 months in detention, with friends:
0935 GMT: A Diplomatic Apology (Sort Of). As Iranian representatives --- after days of posturing and uncertainty --- sit down in Istanbul today with the 5+1 Powers in nuclear talks, the Islamic Republic is also mending another fence with Turkey....
The Iranian Ambassador in Turkey, reacting to insulting poems published in Fars this week, has said that the poet has no connection to the Supreme Leader.
In his quatrains, Shujaa al-Din Ibrahimi called Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Gul "donkeys" and asserted, “The Turks follow the [Arab] invaders and together they conspire against Syria.”
0910 GMT: Campus Watch. Minister of Higher Education and Science Kamran Daneshjoo has been prominent in recent months in his calls to ensure that Iran's universities are truly "Islamic", denouncing Western disciplines --- even though he claims to hold a Ph.D. from a British institution --- and threatening to bar students connected with protest and the Green Movement from universities.
In his most recent comment, Daneshjoo has declared that Western humanities "weaken the pillars of belief" in the Islamic Republic.
0900 GMT: Fraud Watch. Iran Inspector General Mostafa Pourhommadi has maintained his recent challenge to the Government, arguing that its withdrawal of funds from Iranian banks is illegal and warning of the possibility of another large bank fraud, following last year's $2.6 billion embezzlement.
0845 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that Ministry of Intelligence agents removed Habibollah Golparipour from his cell on Wednesday and took him to their offices in Semnan Prison to threaten him with execution.
The site claims Ministry agency prevented Golparipour’s family from seeing him the previous day.
Golparipour was arrested on 27 September 2009 while traveling between the north-western cities of Mahabad and Oroumieh. He was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court for"mohareb" (war against God).
0800 GMT: Economy Watch. Nuclear issues may be dominating the headlines, but Friday Prayer leaders across Iran were more concerned with the economy. Ayatollah Alamolholda in Mashhad and clerics from Khorramshahr, Karaj, Semnan, Qom, Tabbas, and Abadan warned about the danger of inflation and express their worry about the discontent of the people.
Ayatollah Yahya Jafari, the Supreme Leader's representative and the Friday Prayer leader of Kerman, went farther --- he said that Parliament is at the head of affairs and should stop the second round of the Government's subsidy cuts.
0530 GMT: After days of speculation in the media over what might and might not occur, discussions between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) open today in Istanbul, with plans for them to continue through Sunday.
Any predictions can now be set aside for what actually emerges --- although information will be limited and may have to be decoded --- from the negotiating table, but my expectation this morning is of a best-case scenario of talks about further talks.
The Iranians, notably Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in his carefully-placed words in The Washington Post, have signalled that they will play the discussions "long", waiting for the US and European powers to put forth any proposal and --- in the meantime --- judging if Washington and its allies might accept enrichment of uranium on Iranian soil. Despite all the chatter, fed by US and European officials, about a possible proposal --- initially talking tough that Iran would have to give up enrichment to produce 20% uranium and close its plant at Fordoo, later pointing to a step-by-step deal in which Fordoo would close but Iran could build up its 20% stock to a strictly-defined level --- it is likely that Washington and Co. will not put forth any plan for consideration. There is uncertainty about whether Russia and China will back that plan at this point, especially if Tehran balks, and US scepticism that the Islamic Republic is doing more than "playing for time" will have to be overcome.
Still, there were some positive diplomatic signals on Friday. Iranian State media are playing up a meeting betwen Iran's lead negotiator Saeed Jalili and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, with Davutoğlu saying afterwards, "We will have good news" at the end of the Istanbul meeting. Well-connected US journalist Laura Rozen sent out the message from the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, who also met Jalili, that Tehran "had come to talk seriously". More importantly, she put out this message: "Ashton had an over 3 hr dinner with Iran's Jalili, atmosphere described as good and friendly. Meeting seems to to be exceeding expectations."