Zarif, Kerry to Meet

Zarif, Kerry to Meet
Zarif, Kerry to Meet

A senior nuclear negotiator announced that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Geneva on Wednesday to hold a meeting before bilateral nuclear talks between Iranian and US delegations in the following days.

Zarif and Kerry will meet each other and "provide the delegations with the required guidelines," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said, according to a press release.

He said Iranian and US negotiators will hold bilateral discussions from January 15 to 17 and Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) will hold a meeting on January 18 at the level of political directors and deputy foreign ministers.

He also said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is the chief Russian negotiator at the talks, will visit Iran on Monday to hold consultations on the nuclear talks with Iranian officials, including the foreign minister.  "Before and after the talks (with the six major powers), bilateral meetings and negotiations will be held with other members of the P5+1," Araqchi added.

In a statement on Thursday, the State Department also announced that the United States will send a high-level delegation to Geneva to resume talks with Iran over its nuclear program, Xinhua reported.

Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead the US delegation for the bilateral talks, the statement said, adding that she will also attend the meeting between Iran and the P5+1.

The political-director level talks are the second meeting between Iran and the six powers (the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) after they missed a November 24 deadline for clinching a comprehensive deal to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear work.

They last met in Geneva on December 17 after agreeing to extend their talks for another seven months until June 30.

William Burns, former deputy secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan, senior advisor for the Iran nuclear talks, are among members in the US delegation, the statement said.

  Speculations Unhelpful

The foreign minister said on Wednesday that speculations about the nuclear discussions "complicate matters further."

Commenting on a recent report by the Associated Press that Iran and the US had reached an agreement in the December talks under which Iran would ship enriched uranium to Russia, Zarif said, "They are fabricating news and spreading rumors, and such reports are baseless," IRNA reported.    

"The talks are ongoing, and it cannot be concluded that which points had been agreed or had not been agreed until the end of the negotiations," he said, adding, "Such remarks only complicate matters further."