|Zarif, Ashton hold ‘useful’ talks in Istanbul||
TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held two days of “useful” informal nuclear talks in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday.
Zarif is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and Ashton coordinates the talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program on behalf of the six major powers.
The consultations were “lengthy” and “useful” and were held to explore ways of advancing the process of talks, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday after the meeting between Zarif and Ashton.
It was agreed that technical and political consultations will continue until the next round of talks, the nuclear negotiator said.
Iran and the major powers made little progress in their latest round of talks in Vienna to build on a landmark interim nuclear deal they clinched last November in Geneva. But Araqchi said at the time that the two sides are determined to continue negotiations.
Under the Geneva deal, Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The agreement came into force on January 20. Iran and the major powers have set a July 20 deadline to clinch a long-term nuclear deal.
Negotiators were expected to start work on drafting the text of a final deal in their most recent round of talks in Vienna, but they failed to reach the point to start drafting.
Next round of talks set for June 16-20 in Vienna
The European Union said on Tuesday that the next round of talks on resolving the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program will be held in Vienna from June 16 to 20, Reuters reported.
Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann also said that the EU foreign policy chief held “very long and useful discussions” with Zarif in Turkey.
“The next formal round of talks with Iran will be from 16-20 June in Vienna,” Mann said, adding that Ashton and Zarif recommended that an expert-level meeting should take place soon.
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