Chief Negotiators Meet as Deadline for Deal Nears

Chief Negotiators Meet as Deadline for Deal Nears
Chief Negotiators Meet as Deadline for Deal Nears

The foreign minister met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and his counterparts from Iran’s European negotiating partners in Luxembourg on Monday in the run-up to an end-of-the-month deadline to conclude a final deal over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif sat down separately with German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

He also attended a multilateral meeting with his European counterparts and Mogherini, Fars news agency reported.

The three European countries, along with the US, Russia and China, are negotiating with Tehran to settle a 12-year standoff over its nuclear work.

Upon arrival in Luxembourg, the chief negotiator had told IRIB News, “There still remain differences, some technical and others political.”

Zarif added that in Monday’s meetings, the outstanding differences in nuclear talks as well as some regional issues, including the crises in Yemen and Syria and extremism, would be discussed.

Fabius said on Sunday it is unclear whether the accord could be reached by the deadline.

“We need to be extremely firm, at the stage where we are now, things are still not clear,” he said in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuters reported.

He told reporters after the meeting, “There is a need to clarify, make precise and ensure the deal is robust.”

Hammond told reporters as he arrived in Luxembourg, “There will need to be some more flexibility shown by our Iranian partners if we are going to reach a deal, but, look, this is a negotiation, we always expected it would go right to the line and maybe beyond the line.”  

“So I think the serious negotiations are now getting underway and over the next week or so I hope we will start to see some real progress,” he said.

Asked if it would matter if the deadline slipped by a few days, Hammond said, “Let’s see where we get to. We are pushing hard to get there.”

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said on Monday that “the deadline is tight and eight days are not much time anymore.”   

“We’ll concentrate all our efforts on making sure the June 30 (deadline) remains June 30,” Martin Schaefer told a news conference.