Geneva Talks: Seven Nations on Verge of Historic Deal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A breakthrough in the dispute over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program seems to be closer at hand than at any other time in the past decade as top diplomats are flocking to the site of ongoing talks.
Senior diplomat representing Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, have been working since Wednesday in the Swiss city of Geneva to try to find an agreement that is acceptable both to Tehran and the Group 5+1 (also known as P5+1 or E3+3).
Over the past three days, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held several sessions of meetings with the aim of reaching an agreement to help end the 10-year standoff over Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities.
The talks had been initially scheduled to conclude on Friday, but were extended amid hopes of a possible final accord, prompting the G5+1 foreign ministers to announce their attendance in person.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to the Swiss city on Friday afternoon and held a meeting with Zarif and later with Ashton.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have also arrived in Geneva, while British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, as well as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are scheduled to join the talks later today.
US State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that Kerry visits Geneva "with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement".
Later, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that Kerry decided to travel to Geneva "in light of the progress being made" and with "the hope that an agreement will be reached".
Echoing optimism that a deal was close, China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying the talks "have reached the final moment". The country's foreign minister left Beijing for Geneva early on Saturday.
"The nuclear discussions are entering their final phase," China’s foreign ministry said on its website on Saturday.
Iran’s foreign minister said yesterday there has been remarkable progress in the course of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the world powers.
“If you’re asking about the amount of work that has been done, we have moved forward up to 90 percent,” he said, adding only a couple of points needed to be resolved.
In the meantime, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and top negotiator in the nuclear talks, Abbas Araqchi, said Tehran is moving closer to an accord with the six world powers in the Geneva talks on the country’s nuclear energy program.
"To a good degree, we have moved (closer) towards agreement,” Araqchi said on Friday.
One sticking point in the talks was Iran's insistence that its uranium enrichment right be recognized by the world powers. On Friday, an unnamed Western diplomat said the sextet have accepted the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium.
Russia and China in recent years have signaled acceptance of Iran's demand that its right to enrich for peaceful purposes be recognized, and Germany supports the right of any country to that activity as long as it is peaceful. But the other three nations at the table with Iran -- the United States, Britain and France -- were unwilling to do so.