FM to Meet Counterparts in Munich on Nuclear Issues

FM to Meet Counterparts in Munich on Nuclear Issues
FM to Meet Counterparts in Munich on Nuclear Issues

 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to hold talks with his counterparts from the United States, France and Germany on the sidelines of his upcoming visit to Germany as part of efforts to narrow differences between Iran and the major powers to reach a long-term settlement to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Zarif who is scheduled to attend the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) from 6-8 February may meet John Kerry, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the German city, Fars news agency reported.   

According to the report, senior diplomats from Iran’s nuclear delegation will also hold two-way meetings with several members of the P5+1(the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), but the schedule has not yet been finalized.

Last week, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, told reporters about the possibility of such meetings between diplomats from Iran and the P5+1.

He also said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini may also join the panel talks on Iran in Munich on February 8.

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also said a meeting between Zarif and Kerry may take place.

In her regular press briefing on Friday, Psaki said, “I expect they’ll (Zarif and Kerry) meet again in the coming weeks. Our schedule isn’t quite finalized, so that’s sort of where we stand. We’re certainly open to meeting with him, but we’re still putting together the different components of the schedule.”

The new efforts aiming to end the 12-year standoff between Iran and the West come as a US Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that would levy more sanctions on Iran if it fails to sign an agreement with the major powers on its nuclear program.  But US lawmakers are holding off on a full Senate vote to see whether diplomatic negotiations yield a deal. President Barack Obama has stated that any new sanctions bill could “disrupt” the process of talks between Iran and the major powers and that he will veto any sanctions legislation that the US Congress adopts while the talks are underway.

Under a Nov. 24, 2013 preliminary accord between Iran and the P5+1, Tehran agreed to temporarily halt parts of its enrichment program in return for the easing of sanctions against the country until a final deal is worked out. The two sides are trying to reach a framework accord that sets key parameters of a comprehensive deal by March 31 and a final agreement by June 30 that completes the detailed technical aspects.