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Six-Iran meeting participants cautiously optimistic about nuclear issue settlement

September 27, 2013, 13:43 UTC+3

The parties have agreed to meet in Geneva on 15 and 16 October

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UNITED NATIONS, September 27 (Itar-Tass) - A meeting of the foreign ministers of the six key nations - permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, Britain, China, the USA, France) and Germany with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif was held at the United Nations’ headquarters on Thursday. A number of the meeting participants expressed cautious optimism about the possibility of resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. The key point of the meeting was setting a new date for the negotiations, which will take place in Geneva on 15-16 October.

The parties have agreed to meet in Geneva on 15 and 16 October, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton told reporters. “We had a discussion about how we would go forward with an ambitious timeframe to see whether we can make progress quickly,” she stated. Ashton said the Geneva meeting on October 15-16 would “carry on from today's meeting and hopefully move this process forward.”

“We want to spend our time in Geneva translating that into the practical details,” said Ashton, adding: “I am very ambitious for what we can do, but we all know we have to be very practical.”

The diplomat said the meeting was substantial and noted that it was held in a good atmosphere. A set of proposals on (mutual) confidence building measures was put forward, she said. According to her, Iranian government should react to them or present its own proposal.

Zarif for his part insisted that the main result of the negotiations with the six should be the full lifting of sanctions currently in place against Iran. “We believe that sanctions are counterproductive and inconsistent with international law,” he stressed. According to him, all international sanctions, including those in effect under a UN resolution must be lifted in the end. “We hope to be able to make progress towards resolving this issue in a timely fashion, based on respecting the rights of the Iranian people to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, including enrichment, and at the same time making sure that there is no concern at the international level that Iran’s nuclear programme is anything but peaceful,” said Zarif. He said the parties had agreed to start the process as soon as possible, first of all, in order to outline what should be achieved as a result. The minister expressed the hope for achieving the final result within a year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated for his part that the meeting of the six countries’ foreign ministers and Iran was constructive, but has not yet provided an answer to the questions the international community has about the nature of Tehran’s nuclear program. “Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone - which was welcome - doesn’t answer those questions yet and there is a lot of work to be done. So we will engage in that work, obviously, and we hope very, very much, all of us, that we can get concrete results that will answer the outstanding questions regarding the program,” Kerry told reporters, adding that he held a bilateral meeting with Zarif after the ‘six’ meeting.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the tone and spirits of the meeting as “extremely good.” He said that the partied had reached an agreement on substantive negotiations that would take place within three weeks. He said he was encouraged by the attitude to the dialogue, demonstrated by his Iranian counterpart.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Islamic Republic of Iran at the negotiations with the six nations was ready to discuss issues of stopping the production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. According to him, “a good foundation over the past 1.5 years has been developed” for making progress in this field. “It’s important for the six to adequately respond to such an arrangement,” said Lavrov, who heads the Russian delegation at the general debate of the UN General Assembly. 

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