TEHRAN – Iran and the so-called 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) agreed on Wednesday to resume nuclear talks in Geneva on November 7 and 8.
“The talks will continue in a few weeks in Geneva and during this period the members of the P5+1 will have a chance to acquire the necessary readiness regarding the details of Iran’s plans and the steps that they must take,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Facebook page.
The two sides also agreed to establish 'expert committees' to discuss the nuclear issues and the sanctions imposed on Iran, a signal that the West is considering moves to loosen sanctions against Iran.
Zarif and Ashton attended the talks on Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. The two chief diplomats also held talks twice on Tuesday. They also dined together on Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, Zarif presented the Iranian proposal to the 5+1 group entitled "Closing Unnecessary Crisis, Opening New Horizons."
Michael Mann, a spokesman for Ashton, said the Iranian proposal was "very useful".
Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister and lead nuclear negotiator, said the Iranian proposal set out a timeline of six months to get to a deal and that Iran hoped the next step, a new round of talks on the details of a deal, would take place within a month.
Araqchi said on Tuesday that the 5+1 group had been receptive to the Iranian plans. "We had very constructive, very good exchange of views, very serious."
Tehran says the West must recognize its right to uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes as allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory.
The 5+1 group wants Iran sign the additional protocol to the NPT which allows unannounced check of its nuclear sites and a reduction in its level of uranium enrichment.
However, Araqchi was quoted as saying: "Neither of these issues are within the first step [of the Iranian proposal] but form part of our last steps."
Speaking before the talks began on Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said the aim was to make progress towards an interim confidence-building deal that would defuse tensions and buy time for a more comprehensive solution to the standoff.
The official said the announcement by Araqchi days before the Geneva talks that Iran would not ship out enriched uranium as part of a deal was not a critical problem. "There's a variety of ways of dealing with that," she said, the Guardian reported.
"To get to a comprehensive agreement is very, very difficult with highly technical issues that have to be resolved. We are looking for a confidence-building step that will put some time on the clock," the official said.
She pointed out that the U.S. delegation included financial experts; evidence that Washington was ready to talk about scaling down sanctions in response to Iranian concessions. "If they are ready to go, we are ready to go," she said.
The talks between Iran and the 5+1 group in Geneva was the first of its kind since Hassan Rouhani took office in August.
During a visit to the annual UN General Assembly in September, Rouhani's diplomatic approach raised hopes of a thaw in relations between Iran and the West and progress in negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program.
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