Diplomatic Flurry in Munich

Diplomatic Flurry in Munich Diplomatic Flurry in Munich

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a series of high-level meetings on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany as part of efforts to push for a deal with the major powers on Iran’s nuclear program.

Zarif held talks with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday.  

Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi also held talks with US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and William Burns, former deputy secretary of state.  On Friday upon his arrival in Munich, Zarif met with US Secretary of State John Kerry for more than an hour. Senior European Union official Helga Schmid was also present at that meeting. Later in the day, the top diplomat held discussions with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Reuters quoted a senior US State Department official as saying on condition of anonymity that Zarif and Kerry “focused on the ongoing nuclear negotiations and they discussed the recent meetings of the P5+1 (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany).”  

Kerry and Zarif have met repeatedly in recent months in an attempt to narrow the differences in negotiating positions.

Following Friday’s meetings, Zarif said, “In my opinion there are not only one but several alternatives available to reach a resolution of Iran’s nuclear issue,” adding that for a permanent settlement of the nuclear dispute, “only a strong political will is required.”

The future size and scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and the timing of lifting anti-Iran sanctions have been among the major stumbling blocks in the talks.