Zarif: Progress Achieved, Differences Remain

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also leads the team of Iranian negotiators in the ongoing talks with representatives of the six major world powers in Geneva, said there are still gaps to be bridged although negotiations have made progress.

Zarif: Progress Achieved, Differences Remain

The Iranian top negotiator made the remarks before starting a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Saturday evening.

Kerry, Zarif and EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton held a long meeting late into the night on Friday. It came to an end around 11:30 pm local time (1030 GMT), with Kerry saying afterward only that it had involved "a lot of work".

"Over the course of the evening, we continued to make progress as we worked to narrow the gaps. There is more work to do. The meetings will resume tomorrow morning," a senior State Department official said on Friday.

Britain's top diplomat sounded a cautiously optimistic note, saying talks over Iran's nuclear program "have made very good progress," even though crucial issues remain unresolved.

The ongoing talks between Iran and the G5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program kicked off in Switzerland on Thursday, November 7.

The negotiations are aimed at bringing the West’s standoff over the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear program to an end.

In the meantime, sources close the Group 5+1 said the next round of talks between the six world powers and Iran is likely to be held early next week.

Hoping to make an official announcement, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday joined his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany. The foreign ministers of Russia and China are now reported to be in Geneva. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, have united as a diplomatic bloc in the negotiations with Iran.

Sudden progress in talks between Iran and the bloc negotiating with it comes after years of stalemate between western nations and Iran over its nuclear program. 

Iran has denied western allegations that its nuclear program might serve as a cover for a drive to make nuclear weapons, saying that its entire program is for power generation and medical purposes -- areas permitted under international rules.

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