BRUSSELS - World powers and Iran agreed at a low-level meeting in Istanbul to continue technical talks over Tehran's nuclear program, European Union officials said on Wednesday, in hopes of salvaging diplomacy meant to resolve the decade-old dispute.

After three rounds of political negotiations failed to secure a breakthrough earlier this year, the six powers and Iran went into technical discussions aimed at clarifying aspects of Tehran's nuclear energy work.

Such technical talks, which began with a round in Istanbul on Tuesday, are intended to prepare ground for an eventual meeting of political negotiators who could, in time, reach an agreement.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who leads diplomatic efforts on behalf of the six - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany - said senior EU and Iranian negotiators would hold follow-up talks.

"In Istanbul... experts explored positions on a number of technical subjects," Michael Mann said in a statement. No date was yet set for the next round.

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