U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif began here on Monday morning their first meeting in a fresh round of talks over Iran’s long-disputed nuclear program.
The talks were joined by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who already met earlier on Sunday to discuss the technical issues.
A source close to the Iranian team said that Zarif will fly to Brussels to talk with his counterparts from Germany, France and Britain Monday afternoon and then return to Lausanne for further talks with Kerry. Ttop Iranian diplomat said en route to Lausanne earlier on Sunday that if there were political will, making a deal would be possible.
“If other side’s political will were like ours, deal would not be out of mind,” Zarif was quoted as saying.
Kerry also said that he hoped “in the next days” it would be possible to reach an interim deal with Iran if Tehran can show that its nuclear power program is for peaceful purposes only.
“If it’s peaceful, let’s get it done. And my hope is that in the next days that will be possible,” he said in Egypt before heading to Switzerland.
The last round of Iran unclear talks was held at the beginning of this month, in Switzerland’s lakeside resort town of Montreux, in which both Kerry and Zarif participated.
“We will return to these talks on the 15th of March, recognizing that time is of the essence, the days are ticking by,” Kerry said when leaving Montreux.
Along with the bilateral nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran, the P5+1 talks over Iran’s nuclear program will also resume this week, during which representatives from the five U.N. permanent Security Council members plus Germany will hold negotiations with Iran.
The six world powers had set a June 30 deadline to forge a final and comprehensive agreement, but the U.S. has said earlier that it hope to reach a “framework agreement” by the end of March.
It has been over a year since Iran and the world’s major countries agreed to come back to the negotiating table for the Iranian nuclear program in 2013.
Under an interim deal between Iran and the P5+1 inked in November, 2013, Iran said it would suspend critical nuclear activities in return for limited ease of sanctions, with all sides seeking a final and comprehensive deal.
After missing twice self-imposed deadlines, the negotiators agreed in November 2014 to extend the deadline for another seven months, hoping to reach a deal which could be one of the most important and divisive international agreements in decades. Enditem