TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Germany on Sunday to discuss the next stage in efforts to reach a final agreement to end a decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
According to the media, Kerry has told Zarif that existing U.S. sanctions will remain in place.
They met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
On his talks with Secretary Kerry, Zarif said the two officials “discussed a number of issues about the next round of the negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 group, ways to pursue the nuclear talks and how to begin and continue the next phase” of the nuclear accord.
Kerry stressed the importance of both sides negotiating in good faith and Iran abiding by its commitments under the interim accord, a U.S. State Department official said.
“He also made clear that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions,” the official added, Reuters reported.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates the nuclear talks with Iran on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, welcomed the meeting between Kerry and Zarif.
“It is incredibly important that as the international community now looks to build towards the comprehensive talks, that the dialogue is taking place and that we’re working out how to develop a comprehensive approach to this,” she told reporters in Munich.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) made an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program, according to which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country.
Negotiations between six world powers and Iran will resume in Vienna on February 18.
Zarif meets senior officials
Zarif also held a number of separate meetings with senior officials on the sidelines of the conference.
In a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Zarif discussed the situation in Syria, in particular the Geneva II talks and the Iranian nuclear program.
Ban welcomed Zarif’s assurances that Iran would play its part in the search for a political solution to the Syria conflict, according to the UN website.
The Iranian foreign minister also met with India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and discussed the latest regional and international developments as well as issues of mutual interest.
Zarif stated that Iran and India share many cultural, political, and historical affinities, underlining that the two countries need to expand their relations in order to help promote peace and stability in the region.
Menon, for his part, highlighted New Delhi’s willingness to increase cooperation with Tehran, especially in the southeastern Iranian Chabahar Port.
During a meeting with Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament Norbert Rottgen, Zarif called on Berlin to make good use of the existing opportunities created after the landmark agreement between Iran and the world powers.
Rottgen, for his part, noted that there are positive changes in economic relations between Iran and Germany and called for more parliamentary visits between the two countries.
The two sides also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and Europe.
Zarif also met with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kozhara and discussed a range of bilateral and international issues.
Kozhara expressed hope that Iran’s nuclear talks would yield positive results for both sides and voiced his country’s position on the elimination of all Western sanctions against Tehran.
The chief Iranian diplomat also held talks with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano on mutual cooperation between Tehran and the agency on the country’s nuclear activities.