Bilateral Nuclear Talks in Geneva

Bilateral Nuclear Talks in GenevaBilateral Nuclear Talks in Geneva

Diplomats from Iran and the United States resumed the first round of talks over Tehran's nuclear program during the extension period on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi is leading the Iranian delegation during two days of talks with the US negotiating team with Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at its head, IRNA reported.   

Araqchi announced last week that representatives from Iran and the six major powers will also meet on December 17 in Geneva.

According to a statement by the US State Department on Saturday, the bilateral consultations are being held in "the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran, led by EU Special Advisor Cathy Ashton, while Deputy Secretary General for the EU's External Action Service Helga Schmid will join for part of the bilateral meetings."

The talks are the first since Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to meet a second self-imposed deadline last month to reach a long-term settlement to the long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear work and decided to extend their talks on a comprehensive deal for seven more months until June 30 of next year.

They aim to reach a general agreement by March which would lay out the key points of a final pact and use the remaining time to hammer out the details of the accord.  

The two sides had reached a preliminary nuclear agreement in Geneva in November 2013, under which Iran agreed to temporarily scale down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

On Sunday, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali Akbar Salehi said the parties to the talks have managed to narrow gaps on technical and legal issues.  He added, "Only political aspects need to be addressed, and if the other party shows sufficient resolve, there is a high chance of signing a deal."  

US secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Sunday in Rome and discussed Iran's nuclear issue, among other things, Russian news agency Tass reported.