New Push for Nuclear Deal in Munich

New Push for Nuclear Deal in Munich  New Push for Nuclear Deal in Munich

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accompanied by his deputies Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi left Tehran for Germany on Friday to attend the Munich Security Conference which started on the same day.

According to Fars news agency, Zarif is likely to hold nuclear talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on the sidelines of the conference.

The foreign minister said on Thursday he would hold "intensive" discussions with some parties to the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on a final nuclear deal to resolve the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

Asked whether it would be possible to reach an agreement in Munich, Zarif said it was unlikely because all parties were not present at the conference to make it possible to work out an agreement, "but we can advance the work to some extent."

***Zarif-Kerry Meeting

AFP also reported that Kerry was to meet his Iranian counterpart in the Bavarian city on Friday.  

Kerry arrived in southern Germany late on Thursday, flying in from Kiev where he met Ukrainian leaders amid a fresh diplomatic drive to end the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Initially the State Department had said the top US diplomat would meet with Zarif on Saturday.

But spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed to AFP the talks would be on Friday and the two diplomats would "discuss the ongoing nuclear talks."

The top-level meetings come as landmark negotiations involving international powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- and Iran are trying to hammer out a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear work.

Negotiators are eyeing the end of March for a political agreement, and June 30 as the deadline for a final pact.

Kerry and Zarif last held direct talks on January 23 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Under an interim deal agreed in November 2013 by Tehran and the P5+1, Iran scaled down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief until a long-term settlement is achieved.