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Ashton, Zarif to meet to determine agenda for talks between P5+1 and Iran

November 20, 2013, 19:54 UTC+3 134 ¶ ¶ GENEVA
The upcoming round of talks at the level of political directors will be held before November 22 and will last three days
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© EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

GENEVA, November 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is scheduled to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday to determine the agenda of further talks between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany).

It is not known whether other meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and, if so, whether they will take place. The coming round of talks at the level of political directors will be held before November 22 and will last three days. Its level may be raised to ministerial.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said earlier this month that disagreements between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) remained but Tehran hoped to bridge the gap and come to agreement.

“The issue of uranium enrichment is not the topic of the talks. This is Tehran’s inalienable and legitimate right,” the diplomat said. “Our work will centre on the plan proposed by Iran earlier. We will discuss the details.”

He expressed hope that the sides would be able to “make progress.”

At the same time, Araghchi noted that the talks would not be easy. “There is a long way to go,” he said, adding, “I hope that the sides will bring their positions closer, resolve disagreements and come to the final agreement.”

Speaking before the previous round of talks with the P5+1, Zarif said he was optimistic. “The agreement between Iran and the P5+1 can be reached in Geneva already this week,” Zarif said in an interview with Le Monde published on November 7. “But even if this does not happen, it will not be a catastrophe because the main point is that we are moving forward on this issue.”

“We have determined the topics on which the parties can alter their positions. At their meeting on the IAEA sidelines in Vienna, experts considered the full range of issues and now necessary alterations are to be made so that we could move forward,” Zarif said.

Prior to the talks in the middle of October, Zarif said that his country would a try to come to agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program within a year.

He said Iran hoped to convince the P5+1 of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

The minister said he hoped for progress. “The Iranian nuclear program is purely peaceful and we will convince everybody of that,” he said.

The minister stressed that the main result of the talks between the P5+1 and Iran should be full lifting of sanctions on Iran.

“We think that the sanctions are counterproductive and are not consistent with international law. Eventually, all international sanctions, including those imposed by the U.N. decision, should be lifted,” Zarif said.

He said he was hopeful for further progress in this direction in a short period of time.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has instructed the Foreign Ministry to continue the talks with the P5+1 group.

The P5+1 is a group of countries which in 2006 joined the diplomatic efforts with Iran in regard to its nuclear program. The term refers to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, namely the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

Iran hopes for a breakthrough at the talks on its nuclear program this year, Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Head and Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi said. “We shall see a breakthrough on the issue within the next several months.”

Iranian talks have lately reached a stalemate as the United States and its Western allies suspect Tehran of harboring secret plans to create nuclear weapons and imposed economic sanctions against the country, while the Iranian government insists that it only wants to build nuclear power plants.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during his visit to Cairo on November 3 that “the United States is deeply engaged with the P5+1, in the guarantees that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.”

“That is a promise by the President of the United States,” he stressed.

Yet many observers welcomed the election of Hassan Rouhani the new president of Iran and hope that he will be able to reach a compromise with the West. The president called for constructive interaction with the outside world. He has instructed the Foreign Ministry to continue the talks with the P5+1 group.

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