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US State department: Ashton talks with Iran delegation in Geneva substantial

November 22, 2013, 11:08 UTC+3 GENEVA

The plan is to begin Friday with a meeting between Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Intercontinental Hotel

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GENEVA, November 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The US government has described the discussions held in Geneva on Thursday by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton with Iran’s delegation as very substantial.

Ashton and the EU team had a very substantial discussion with the Iranian delegation that took most of the day, a US State Department official said on the results of the first day of the current round of Geneva negotiations. He is a member of the U.S. delegation in Geneva participating in meetings of the political directors of the UN Security Council’s permanent five plus Germany (P5+1) with Iran that discuss Tehran’s nuclear problem settlement.

According to the US official, the only break (in the Thursday negotiations) was during lunchtime when the emissaries of the P5+1 group held consultations with each other. The EU and Iranian delegations fully focused on going into the negotiations details and making progress. Because of the work schedules’ aspects, none of the delegations, except the EU, held (on Thursday) bilateral meetings with the Iranian side, the diplomat said.

The work schedule was being developed in Geneva for Friday. The plan is to begin the day with a meeting between Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Intercontinental Hotel, the US State Department official added.

Spokeswoman for the US Department of State Jen Psaki said for her part that in the view of Washington, progress has been made at the Geneva negotiations. Psaki expressed optimism, saying the Obama administration believes “we have an opportunity to move forward on a diplomatic path with the Iranians.”

She said the negotiators were making progress. According to her, the six world powers remained united in their proposal to Iran.

“Our negotiators are making progress, but as we all know, these issues are complicated and require time to hash out. As Secretary (of State John) Kerry has said, we’re not in a rush to make just any deal. We are working very hard to make sure we get a good deal. High Representative Ashton and the EU delegation have been meeting bilaterally today with Foreign Minister Zarif and the Iranian team to continue working to narrow gaps between the two sides,” Psaki noted.

“The P5+1 delegations have also been meeting separately throughout the day for consultations, both at the political director and at the expert level. The P5+1 remains entirely united in our proposal, and we are focused on doing everything we can to conclude a first step agreement with Iran. We’ve not had a chance to hold a bilateral meeting today with the Iranians, but we did have a brief bilateral discussion last evening,” she said.

She declined to specify if Secretary Kerry would alter his work schedule to arrive, if necessary, to Geneva to join in the negotiations. “There is not an update at this point,” Psaki stressed.

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