Fresh out of One, Top Negotiators Enter Another Meeting in Geneva
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton started the fourth session of talks in the Swiss city of Geneva minutes ago.
This is the fourth session of direct meetings between the two high-ranking officials after they held two other such sessions on Wednesday and another one on Thursday.
Ashton's Speaker Michael Mann said substantial and detailed talks between Iran's foreign minister and the EU foreign policy chief resume in Geneva as the sides are seeking further progress.
Foreign Minister Zarif is also Iran’s top negotiator in the nuclear talks and Catherine Ashton oversees diplomacy with Iran on behalf of the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).
Earlier today, Catherine Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, described the morning meeting between Ashton and Zarif as substantial and detailed, adding that the two got down to detailed work.
In a Wednesday message on his Facebook page, Zarif said that “serious and detailed talks” with Ashton on a potential “final agreement” will start on Thursday morning.
Iran and the G5+1 had a brief and introductory plenary session on Wednesday, focusing mainly on the process of the negotiations.
The negotiating sides agreed to resume the nuclear talks in bilateral meetings between different delegations, at the level of deputy chief negotiators.
The first day of talks also saw the Iranian team hold separate bilateral meetings with delegations representing Russia, the US, and the three European members of the G5+1.
This is the second time in a month that the Swiss city of Geneva is hosting representatives from Iran and the group of six major world powers. They had three days of intensive talks on November 7-9.
During the previous round of talks, the two sides managed to narrow their differences on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, though there were hitches that stopped them from reaching an interim deal at the end of the talks.
On Wednesday, a senior American administration official said in Geneva that the draft agreement hammered out during the previous rounds was still the basis for the talks underway this week.
Diplomats decline to reveal the details of their demands and proposals or the outlines of the draft they could not agree on. But there are speculations that the interim deal would halt advance of Iran’s enrichment capacity and roll back part of its nuclear program for six months. In exchange, the US would offer what American officials have described as “very modest” sanctions relief.