Zarif-Kerry Meeting Focused on Deal

Zarif-Kerry Meeting Focused on Deal

The Saturday meeting between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly was focused on the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and the two top diplomats did not discuss regional issues, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham told ISNA on Sunday.

Afkham rejected western media reports that regional challenges, including the crises in Syria and Yemen, came up for discussion and said, "In yesterday's meeting, Zarif and Kerry exchanged views on the nuclear case, the actions which should be taken to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the official name of the nuclear pact] and ways to address the Iranian people's misgivings about the [the other side's genuine will] to implement the JCPOA."       

The Kerry-Zarif meeting, their first encounter after the conclusion of the nuclear accord in Vienna, came after the top US nuclear negotiator said Friday the Obama administration was ready to open a dialogue with Iran about the situation in Syria.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said such a discussion would "make sense" in the context of current developments in the Syrian conflict.

"There are great political sensitivities in Iran to having these discussions and probably some limits that are real, but it is important to engage to the extent that we can."

***Major Opportunity

In a short press briefing before the meeting, Kerry said, "We have a lot of issues to talk about… I view this week as a major opportunity for any number of countries to play an important role in trying to resolve some of the very difficult issues of the Middle East."

"We need to achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen, in the region itself. And I think there are opportunities this week through these discussions to make some progress. So I don't want to predict anything; I don't want to get specific about what issue may or may not be discussed," Kerry said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the website of the US State Department.  

Zarif told reporters the meeting would concentrate on the full implementation of the nuclear deal.

He said, "That is the project that we started together, and we hope that by its full implementation – its good-faith implementation – we can vent some of the mistrust that has existed over the past many decades."

He added, "The situation in the region… [is] disastrous and we need to address them. We will address them in the proper international forum."


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