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Nuclear Talks Resume in Vienna
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Nuclear Talks Resume in Vienna

Iran and the six major powers are scheduled to start a new round of talks on a final deal to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program today in Vienna.  

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on Tuesday that the meeting between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) would be at the level of political directors, IRNA reported.

The foreign minister and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates the talks on behalf of the P5+1, will also be present at the meeting.

Zarif also said, "In this round of talks, we are reviewing solutions to end differences. Of course, there are significant differences, but it does not mean that disagreements cannot be resolved."

"These discussions are time-consuming and it is possible that we need more discussions on solutions," he said.

Elsewhere, he said there is still time to clinch a nuclear deal, adding, "We have more than 40 days and as I said different solutions on all issues have been presented by different parties, and we only need to reach a consensus on these solutions."

"We have not reached a common conclusion yet, but I believe it can be reached if there is a political will," he said.

****Trilateral Meeting   

Zarif, Ashton, and US Secretary of State John Kerry held a meeting in the Austrian capital on Wednesday to help advance international diplomacy on Iran's nuclear issue.

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) are trying to build on an interim nuclear accord they reached in Geneva last November to hammer out a long-term settlement to the nuclear dispute, which has dragged on for over a decade. They have set a November 24 target date to strike a deal.

The final deal would impose temporary constraints on Iran's nuclear work in exchange for a phased lifting of sanctions.

Under the Geneva agreement, Iran agreed to scale down its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The talks and the interim deal were extended for four months in July to provide more time and space for achieving a comprehensive solution.

The previous round of high-level talks between Iran and the six powers, which was held in New York from September 19 to 26, did not make any significant progress.

The main stumbling blocks in the talks are the future scope of Tehran's uranium enrichment program, the mechanism of lifting sanction, the duration of the final deal, the underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility, and the planned Arak heavy water reactor.

In a televised address to people on Monday evening, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran and the major powers would certainly reach a final nuclear deal.

"On the nuclear issue, the two sides will certainly reach an agreement and the agreement will be based on a win-win formula," IRNA quoted him as saying.

He also said, "The final agreement would be a great achievement. Now there is consensus with the P5+1 on generalities and they have recognized Iran's nuclear rights… but there are differing views on details."

****Nuclear Deal Not out of Reach

Kerry said on Tuesday, "We are deeply committed to the diplomatic effort to try to reach an agreement that assures the international community of the fact that the Iranian nuclear program is exclusively peaceful."

"I don’t believe it’s out of reach. But we have some tough issues to resolve, and I’m not going to prognosticate. We need to continue to have some serious discussions, which we will, and we’ll see where we are. And I just think I’ll let the negotiation process speak for itself at this point in time," he said, according to the website of the US Department of State.

****Compromise Possible

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told RIA Novosti on Tuesday that compromise in the Vienna talks is possible.

“The questions that need to be agreed on are not that difficult at first glance. However, before a lengthy marathon of talks is over, everyone wants to achieve a little more. But I am sure that compromise is possible,” Lavrov said.

"I cannot guarantee that it will be done before November 24. This date is not sacred. We will do our best to achieve results before this date."

The Russian official also said Moscow is focused on the quality of the talks.

"We are striving to reach a result before this date, but I’m sure that the main thing is not artificial schedules but the essence of the agreements. That is the main thing for us," he said.

"We are doing everything to achieve a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program as soon as possible. We keep touch almost on a daily basis," he added.

****Ministerial Meeting  

In an interview with RIA Novosti on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who represents Moscow at the nuclear talks, said a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 could take place in November.

"A ministerial meeting is possible. But this will mean that the solution is near. Alternatively, if this is not achieved, complications are possible," Ryabkov said.

****Creativity in Talks

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei also said on Wednesday, "China expects all parties to work closely, seek current opportunities, show creativity and seek a package of solutions that takes all parties' concerns into consideration."

"Despite difficulties and obstacles, the negotiations have achieved much progress," Xinhua quoted Hong as saying.

****No Talks on Extending Deadline

Reuters quoted a senior US official as saying on Wednesday that Iran and the major powers are not discussing extending the late November deadline for reaching a nuclear accord.

However, the State Department official said there were still some significant gaps in negotiating positions on Iran's uranium enrichment program, "We don't know if we'll be able to get to an agreement, we very well may not."

The official spoke ahead of the meeting between Zarif, Kerry, and Ashton.

"We're not talking about extension or anything like that in the room. We’re talking about getting this done by the 24th (of November)," the US official said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi last week raised the possibility that the talks could be extended.

The State Department official said, "There is still time to get this done. There's enough time to get the technical work done, to get the political agreement ... if everybody can make the decisions they need to."

"We keep chipping away ... In places gaps have narrowed, but the Iranians have some fundamental decisions to make."

 

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