|Progress made in nuclear talks with major powers: Iranian negotiator||
TEHRAN – Iran and the six major powers made good progress in expert talks in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday on how to implement an interim deal on the country’s nuclear program, according to a top Iranian nuclear negotiator.
“Good progress has been made, but there are still some remaining issues that should be resolved at the political level,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) clinched a landmark deal in Geneva on November 24 according to which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
The Geneva agreement is designed to provide time to negotiate a comprehensive deal to help resolve Iran’s nuclear issue.
Araqchi also said it was likely that he would meet Helga Schmid, the deputy of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton who represents the 5+1 group in nuclear negotiations with Iran, to further discuss some issues next week.
The expert-level gathering in Geneva was the third time since November 24 that nuclear experts and sanctions specialists from the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany had met their Iranian counterparts to work out the implementation of the breakthrough nuclear accord.
The technical talks started on December 9 but Iran broke them off briefly after the United States blacklisted additional 19 Iranian companies and individuals under its existing sanctions.
Iranian officials said the move violated the spirit of the deal but U.S. officials said it did not breach the agreement.
An Iranian official was also quoted as saying on Tuesday that Iran and world powers had agreed to start implementing the Geneva deal in late January.
“Based on the conclusions the talks held with ...expert delegations, the implementation of the Geneva accord will start in the third ten-day of January,” Press TV quoted Hamid Baeidinejad, an Iranian nuclear negotiator, as saying on Tuesday.
“The two sides managed to reach an understanding on the implementation of the agreement and now, their views and interpretations are the same,” he said.
According to Reuters, the EU and British and U.S. governments indicated that work remains to be done on how to implement the November accord.
Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the experts would report back to their capitals and contacts would continue to “finalize a common understanding of implementation.”
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said progress was made in the talks and the sides “expect to finalize the implementation plan soon.”
A senior U.S. administration official also said an agreement was close.
In London, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said good progress had been made in the latest talks in Geneva, but some issues remained to be resolved.
“Our aim is to bring the agreement into force as soon as possible,” she said.
Western diplomats have said in the past that January 20 was a possible implementation date, because that is when EU foreign ministers next meet in Brussels and could agree on the lifting of EU sanctions.
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