JNN 10 June 2014 Brussels : The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States have started direct nuclear negotiations in Geneva prior to the next round of Tehran’s nuclear talks with the Sextet of world powers.
The two-day talks started on Monday and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Ministers Seyyed Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi head the Iranian delegation. The Meeting lasted for more than five hours Monday in rare, high-level direct talks in Geneva over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
The talks were expected to continue all day Tuesday, said Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman in Washington at the US Department of State.
The US negotiating team is led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns as well as top White House adviser, Jake Sullivan.
The European Union’s political director, Helga Schmid, also attended Monday’s meeting in the Swiss city, according to the reports in Iran.
“The bilateral talks could allow for a convergence of positions and thus an agreement,” said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi before the two-day consultations got under way.
Araqchi has stressed that the negotiations will solely focus on nuclear topics and noted that Iran holds the talks with the US as most of the sanctions against the Islamic Republic have been unilaterally imposed by Washington.
Iranian officials will later sit down with Russian diplomats in the Italian capital, Rome, on June 11-12.
Representatives from Iran will probably hold further meetings with other delegations from the six countries.
July 20 is the target date for a comprehensive agreement between Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany – to end the decade-long row over Iran’s nuclear activities.
The meetings come ahead of the fifth round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain – plus Germany, scheduled for June 16-20 in the Austrian capital city of Vienna.
The US and its allies are seeking an agreement to guarantee that Iran will use its nuclear programme solely for peaceful purposes. Tehran has insisted that it is not seeking nuclear weapons.
Harf said the bilateral talks with the US this week were for the purpose of “consultation … not negotiation” to set the stage for the fifth round of negotiations next week.
The bilateral meetings aim to work out sticking points ahead of those talks, Harf indicated.
She said that Germany’s Helga Schmid, who represents the EU as convener of the talks, was also present at Monday’s bilateral with the US. Iran has said said it also will conduct bilateral talks with Russia later this week in Rome.
Harf noted the July 20 deadline, saying: “We are at a critical juncture in the talks. We don’t have very much time left.”
She declined to give details of the negotiations, in order to “give them the best chance of success.”
Araqchi said his delegation was committed to meeting the deadline for the final accord.
The US delegation to the Geneva talks is led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. White House adviser Jake Sullivan was also helping to lead Monday’s talks, Harf confirmed.
In November, the parties reached an interim deal under which Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment programme and reduce some levels of enrichment in exchange for some relief from international sanctions.