Intensive Bilateral Nuclear Meetings in Geneva

Intensive Bilateral Nuclear Meetings in Geneva Intensive Bilateral Nuclear Meetings in Geneva

Senior diplomats from Iran and its international negotiating partners held intensive bilateral meetings in Geneva as part of efforts to narrow the remaining gaps between Tehran and the major powers over its nuclear program with just over two months left before a deadline to reach a general agreement.    

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov late on Saturday. Araqchi and senior negotiator Majid Takht-Ravanchi had earlier sat with Helga Schmid, who is the deputy of the European Union foreign policy chief.  

Earlier in the day, Araqchi and Takht-Ravanchi held their last round of two-way talks with US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and William Burns, former deputy secretary of state.  

Araqchi told Iranian media that the talks were "serious", adding that "there are gaps" between the parties that need to be addressed.  The diplomat said there will be high chance of reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement provided that "the other party (the six major powers) displays good faith and real resolution," Fars news agency reported. Talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are due to resume at political director level today in Geneva as the two sides look to reach a framework accord that sets key parameters by March 31 and a final deal by June 30 that completes the detailed technical aspects. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a telephone conversation with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday.

Zarif had earlier met with his US and French counterparts separately on Friday in Paris.

Zarif and Kerry met for about an hour in Paris to follow up on a lengthy meeting on Wednesday in Geneva in search of an agreement.  

The foreign minister told state television, "We discussed ways to overcome problems and gaps".

On Thursday, the diplomat also conferred with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.  Meanwhile, a senior Western diplomat close to the negotiations said while everybody wanted to find a solution, there had been very little progress since November.

"The Iranians have still not made the necessary gestures to reach a good deal," the diplomat said. "I have the feeling that things have not radically evolved and that we're still relatively far from getting there", Reuters quoted the diplomat as saying on Saturday.

"We should not put ourselves under artificial pressure," said the western diplomat.