Fabius to Take Stock of P5+1 Progress

Fabius to Take Stock of P5+1 Progress
Fabius to Take Stock of P5+1 Progress

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday he would meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif today to assess where Iran stands ahead of the final round of talks on its nuclear program, beginning later this week.

The bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers' summit in Luxembourg, will be followed by a meeting between Zarif and all the European parties negotiating with Iran, Reuters reported.

"Toward the end of next week the ministers will go (to the talks), so I'd like to have an explanation and conversation to see where the Iranians are," Fabius told reporters in Cairo.

Iran reached a framework nuclear deal with the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) on April 2 in Lausanne. The parties are aiming for a final agreement by June 30 under which Iran would restrict its nuclear activities for specified durations in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

France is deemed to have been one of the toughest in pressing for limits on Iran's nuclear work that some western countries claim may be aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian program, but Tehran says is only meant for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and medical research.

"We're at a stage where the Iranians have to tell us what's in their mind and I'll explain to them that France wants a robust accord, but that means verifiable, because an agreement that is not verifiable is an agreement that is not implemented," Fabius said.

A senior French diplomat added that the powers were not thinking about a long-term extension to the talks and were focused on reaching a deal around the June 30 deadline.