International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano and Iran's lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, hailed "intensive" and "very good" talks on Iran's nuclear programme on Monday, state television said.
The upbeat assessment was seen as significant ahead of broader, more substantive talks to take place on Wednesday in Baghdad between an Iranian delegation led by Jalili and representatives of world powers in the so-called P5+1 group.
"We had expansive and intensive talks in a positive atmosphere," Amano was quoted as saying by the Persian language broadcaster IRIB, which added that he lauded the "good atmosphere" of the discussions.
"Certainly the progress of these talks will have a positive effect on Iran and the P5+1 negotiations. Of course these two issues are different from one another, but can underpin each other," he said.
Jalili said of the discussions: "We had very good talks with Amano and, God willing, we will have good cooperation in the future."
He and the IAEA chief said the discussions focused on nuclear disarmament, halting nuclear weapons proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy as permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
They also discussed "consolidating" the UN nuclear surveillance agency to make it more effective in pursuing those goals, IRIB said.
Amano was further quoted as saying that his agency was in no way involved in the recent assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists, and he promised to safeguard classified information gleaned from nuclear inspections.
One area of contention was hinted at, however, when Amano commented on Iran's insistence that a "road map" be established that would fix a sequence for Tehran to respond to IAEA suspicions of nuclear weapons research.
"I will not get into details," he was quoted as saying. "The agency has its own view and Iran has its own."
That had bearing on the UN agency's repeated demands -- rebuffed by Tehran -- that it be given access to a key military installation, Parchin, outside Tehran, where the IAEA suspects explosives tests for nuclear warhead research have been conducted.
Western governments have accused Iran of removing evidence at the site, while Amano has said that satellite imagery showed unspecified activity there.
Iran says Parchin is not a designated nuclear site and thus it is not obliged to permit IAEA inspections, although it last did so in 2005.
It says if it did allow inspections of the site, they would have to be part of an agreed "road map" that would address the IAEA's concerns in a set order.
Iran has denied IAEA and Western suspicions that it has embarked on any nuclear weapons work.
Amano had said before leaving for Tehran that, while he was going into the discussions with a positive mindset, his one-day visit was too short to carry out in-depth work such as inspections.
He was to hold another discussion late Monday with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi before leaving for his return flight to IAEA headquarters in Vienna.
His trip, hastily planned, was the fruit of talks last week at the IAEA between lower-ranking IAEA and Iranian officials.
The results of his talks would inevitably flow into the Baghdad talks to take place on Wednesday between Jalili and representatives of the P5+1 -- veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.
Iran wants to see Western sanctions targeting its vital oil and financial sectors eased. Its officials insist that they are having no effect, despite analysts and traders' information to the contrary.
Those sanctions are programmed to be ratcheted up further in just over a month's time, when US and EU measures aimed at blocking Iran's foreign oil sales come fully into effect.
The United Nations has also imposed its own set of sanctions on Iran in a series of resolutions that call for the Islamic republic to suspend all uranium enrichment -- something Tehran has repeatedly refused to do.
The spectre of military action against Iran by the United States or its ally Israel -- the sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state in the Middle East -- looms should the P5+1 nuclear talks fail to make headway.© ANP/AFP