Sextet FMs Meet as Talks Likely to Drag into Sunday
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Foreign Minister of the Group 5+1 (the six major world powers also known as P5+1) convened a session in Geneva, Switzerland, this afternoon as an Iranian negotiator said talks may continue tomorrow (Sunday).
According to Tasnim dispatches, the meeting between foreign ministers of Britain, France, the US, Russia and China plus Germany started at 19:10 Tehran time with a 10-minute delay.
This comes as talks which have been ongoing on different prongs are close to an interim deal, as diplomats say thee two sides have differences only over a couple of subjects.
Speaking to reporters, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi expressed optimism about the talks, but added that they are “intensive”.
“We hope to reach results tonight. We may reach result tonight and at the same time it is possible that negotiation may continue tomorrow,” Araqchi stated.
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.
The United States and its western allies have suggested they are ready to ease some sanctions in return for a first-step deal that starts to put limits on Iran's nuclear program, but they insist that the stringent sanctions that have targeted Iran's oil and financial sectors are to remain intact in the first stage that is going to last six months.
They say Iran would get modest but "reversible" sanctions relief, including access to several billion dollars in oil revenues and easing trade restrictions on precious metals and aircraft parts.
Among differences being tackled in the current round is the extent to which a right for Iran to enrich uranium is recognized.
Iran insists it is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, as it is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Diplomats indicated a compromise that would recognize this right internationally may be within reach.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today his country would reject demands that fail to recognize its rights in the course of the nuclear negotiations with the sextet and that Tehran would not bow to "excessive demands."
"We are not prepared to commit to any (deal) that damages Iran's rights and interests," the Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday, adding that "in any agreement, enrichment in Iran will not be suspended."
The presence of foreign ministers can give an impetus to the talks, but it can in no way guarantee an agreement, diplomatic sources said. The Geneva meeting follows a previous round of talks earlier this month. On that occasion, too, foreign ministers flew to Geneva to seal an interim deal, but disagreement between the G5+1 prevented them from signing one.