|Zarif optimistic about nuclear talks||
TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that he is optimistic about the outcome of talks with the major powers on a final solution to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
“I am optimistic” that a deal will be reached in three months, he told Reuters in Abu Dhabi. “There is the political will to get an answer,” he added as he boarded a plane back to Tehran on Tuesday.
Zarif also said he does not fear opposition from domestic critics as he leads negotiations to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the major powers by the end of July.
Iran and the six major powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - struck an interim deal in November under which Tehran agreed to limit parts of its nuclear work in return for the easing of some sanctions imposed on the country for its disputed nuclear program. They have set a July 20 deadline to clinch a long-term deal that would lead to a gradual lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions.
Certain political groups in Iran, unsettled by the shift to a more moderate foreign policy since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August, have repeatedly criticized the agreement.
“The domestic audience will be satisfied if we have a good deal,” said Zarif when asked if he feared domestic pushback. “Of course some people will never be satisfied but that is fine because we have a pluralistic society.”
In their latest criticism of the interim agreement, some critics have said Iran has had difficulty receiving billions of dollars of oil revenue unfrozen under the agreement. Majid Takht-Ravanchi, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, rejected the assertion on Tuesday, saying Iran’s central bank has no problem accessing the funds, according to state news agency IRNA.
Iran and the six powers ended their latest round of talks in Vienna last week and said they would start drafting an agreement ahead of their next meeting there on May 13.
According to ISNA, experts from Iran and the major powers will meet in New York from May 5 to 9 to prepare for the next round of political-level talks in the Austrian capital.
The Islamic Republic denies accusations by Western powers and their allies that it has tried to develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.
During his visit to the United Arab Emirates, Zarif met with officials including Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Energy Minister Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazroui.
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