EU's Ashton says Iran talks 'substantial'

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walks through the hallway during the 68th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says talks between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany were "substantial" and have set the stage for a new round of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program next month.

Speaking after Thursday's meeting at the United Nations, Ashton told reporters all parties had agreed to "go forward with an ambitious timeframe." She said senior negotiators would meet in Geneva on Oct. 15-16.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said here had been a "big improvement in the tone and spirit" from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

The meeting marked the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in six years as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sat next to Zarif.