Geneva Talks Useful; Next Meeting in Jan.

Geneva Talks  Useful; Next  Meeting in Jan.
Geneva Talks  Useful; Next  Meeting in Jan.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said  late Wednesday he had "very useful and helpful" nuclear negotiations with the six major powers in Geneva.

Araqchi, speaking to reporters at the end of all-day closed-door talks, said there was an agreement to continue nuclear talks "next month" at a venue to be decided. "We had very intense negotiations. It was very useful and helpful," Reuters quoted Araqchi as saying, without giving details.

The US negotiating team led by Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman left the meeting, held at the European Union's diplomatic mission, without making any comment. Earlier on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said nuclear talks with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) were being conducted in a good atmosphere, "good steps" had been taken and more would follow.

US and Iranian negotiators held a two-day meeting on Monday and Tuesday in the Swiss city to pave the way for wider talks on how to end the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia failed last month to meet a self-imposed deadline to resolve the standoff, extending the talks for seven more months.

  Call for More Flexibility

France and Britain claimed on Thursday Iran had not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in nuclear talks with the major powers. The remarks, at the United Nations, came just after the completion of the Geneva talks, Reuters reported.

"In spite of insufficient flexibility demonstrated at this stage by Iranian negotiators, we'd like to believe that Iran does seek a long-term agreement," senior French diplomat Philippe Bertoux told the UN Security Council.

"We would expect that Iran takes strategic choices and courageous decisions" in upcoming rounds of negotiations, he added. Senior British diplomat Michael Tatham echoed his remarks, urging Iran to be more flexible.

Iran denies western allegations that it may be seeking the capability to produce nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear work is solely for peaceful purposes. Iran and the six powers signed an interim deal in November 2013 and are seeking a long-term agreement that would end sanctions in exchange for constraints on Tehran's nuclear program for a specified period time.  The French UN mission posted on Twitter on Thursday that "new ideas submitted during the talks in Vienna deserved careful consideration by the P5 + 1 members." Most of the nuclear negotiations have been held in Vienna.

Western officials say Iran has not compromised on major sticking points, including the size and scope of its future uranium enrichment program and the speed of ending sanctions. Deputy US Ambassador David Pressman said Washington would not talk with the Iranians indefinitely without results.

"While we continue to believe that the best way to achieve our goals is thorough diplomacy, we are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever," he said.

He said the 15-nation Security Council's sanctions committee should continue monitoring implementation of UN sanctions. He also referred to a recent report by the Iran Panel of Experts, which oversees sanctions compliance, that claimed Tehran was continuing to skirt sanctions by attempting to procure banned nuclear technology.

Iran says as part of the interim accord it has undertaken not to make further advances to its construction work at the Arak heavy water reactor and launch new centrifuge machines at its other nuclear facilities, but the agreement does not ban it from purchasing or manufacturing components for its planned reactors. Tehran does not recognize the UN resolutions which call for its nuclear activities to be suspended, maintaining that they have no legal basis.