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VIENNA, July 13 /ITAR-TASS/. The foreign ministers of P5+1 group of countries (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) will join negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program upon arriving in the Austrian capital this weekend. Critical differences that are making it impossible to draft the final document before July 20 as initially planned makes their presence in Vienna imperative.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and French foreign policy chief, Laurent Fabius, have confirmed they are coming to Vienna.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who is accompanying President Vladimir Putin on his Latin American tour will not take part in the ministerial meeting. Instead, Vladimir Voronkov, Russia’s Permanent Representative in international organizations in Vienna, will represent Russia at the consultations. However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will continue heading the Russian delegation.
Sunday’s working schedule and the format of meetings has not yet been agreed to the end.
A diplomatic source close to consultations which have been under way since July 2 told Itar-Tass that problems had emerged simultaneously in several fields in recent days.
First, despite making considerable progress in writing the document’s draft, the representatives of the six nations could not bring their positions closer on a number of key issues such as the parameters of Iran’s enrichment program, the operation of a research reactor in Arak and the research facility at Fordo as well as a package of issues concerning possible military orientation of Iran’s nuclear program as well as a schedule for implementing the agreement and its deadlines.
The second systemic difficulty that has arisen in recent days is linked to differences within the P5+1 group.
“The United States has always placed high demands on Iran; France’s stance has also been tough,” the diplomatic source told Itar-Tass.
On the contrary, the Russian side believes that excessive demands should not be lodged and that an agreement with Tehran should not create a precedent for tightening control over other countries.
“Our aim is to achieve that no one perceives a future agreement with Iran as a precedent for creating new standards of activities for other countries and organizations in this sphere,” Sergei Ryabkov, the head of the Russian delegation, said recently.
Ryabkov said that while the group of six stayed united in its negotiations with Iran, each country should defend its national interests.
“There is a combination of coordinated effort and national interests. The unity of the group of six is important for creating conditions for achieving a result. However, this unity cannot overshadow other things such as national interests which should be put at the head,” Ryabkov said. Commenting on a statement of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who said that Russia’s stance was allegedly slowing down the talks, Ryabkov noted that the P5+1 group was not a guard of honor near a monument to Iran’s nuclear problem that marched in step and saluted to a whistle.
"The group of six consists of countries which have their own interests in various spheres. There is nothing new or dramatic here, noting that could hinder the talks. The course of things implies that various priorities advance to the forefront at various stages,” Ryabkov explained.