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US set for historic Iran meeting
A senior United States official is due to take part for the first time in international talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
The official, William Burns, is joining envoys from the EU and permanent members of the UN security council.
They are expected to discuss with the country's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, incentives for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.
Mr Burns' attendance is being seen as a major shift in US policy.
The US and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the taking of hostages at the US embassy in Tehran.
Formal contact between the two countries have been extremely limited, though last year they met at ambassadorial level to discuss security in Iraq.
Since 2002, when President George W Bush famously named Iran as one of the countries that formed the "axis of evil", his administration had insisted that no face-to-face talks would be held unless Iran suspended the enrichment of uranium, which it says could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
We've been very clear that any country can change course
US Secretary of State
US and Iran eye diplomatic opening
Iran says its nuclear activities are only for civilian purposes.
US officials say Mr Burns' presence will be a "one-time event" and that he is in Geneva not to negotiate but to listen.
With just six months left of his presidency, analysts say Mr Bush is taking a more pragmatic approach.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemed to sum up the new conciliatory mood in a speech on Friday.
She reiterated that Iran was "a difficult and dangerous state" before adding: "We have been very clear that any country can change course."
Ahead of the talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki described them as "positive and constructive".
"Today's meeting might continue with several others so that the view points of all sides can be put on the table," he said.
Saturday's talks will aim to find out how Iran will respond to the West's offer of economic incentives for Tehran to suspend its nuclear activities.
Iran denies any nuclear weapons plans, but is defying UN Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment.
The BBC's Jon Leyne is Tehran says no big announcements are expected in Geneva.
The most the Iranians are considering agreeing to at the moment is a freeze of their nuclear programme, our correspondent adds.
The talks come after weeks of rising tensions in the region.
The Iranians test-fired missiles last week, and a series of threats and counter-threats between Iran and Israel has been watched nervously in the West.
But the talks appear to have eased some of the tensions.
Recent reports have suggested the US may even consider opening a diplomatic mission in Tehran - which would be the first such link since the US hostage crisis nearly 30 years ago.
Formal contact between the US and Iran is very rare, though the two countries held three rounds of talks in 2007 over security in Iraq.