Source: Iran, Sextet to Resume Expert-Level Talks Tomorrow
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A source close to the Iranian team negotiating with the major world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program said the expert-level talks between the two sides are set to resume in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday, December 19.
The forthcoming round of talks, which is expected to last for two days, is aimed to discuss the procedures for the implementation of a recent nuclear deal reached in the Swiss city earlier in November.
Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Director General for International and Political Affairs Hamid Baeedinejad is scheduled to head the Iranian negotiators in the upcoming talks, while Stephen Clement, deputy and assistant to Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief, will participate in the talks on behalf of the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).
Last week, implementation talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna were disrupted after four days of negotiations, when Iran reacted angrily to a US decision to expand its list of Iranian sanctions targets by blacklisting 19 companies and individuals for evading the existing bans on Iran.
While in Iran the move has been depicted as running counter to the spirit of the Geneva accord, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said that the designations “were related to the enforcement of existing sanctions, and we have made clear all along that we would continue to enforce existing sanctions.”
“We have been clear with Iran throughout this process that we will continue to enforce existing sanctions,” Carney said.
On Tuesday morning, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and a top member of Iran’s team of nuclear negotiators, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, met with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to discuss ways of restarting the expert-level talks.
Araqchi lashed out at the US for its "unconstructive stance" against Iran and urged American officials to avoid taking such provocative measures if they really want the negotiations to go on but reaffirmed that Iran would continue talks with the G5+1 experts on its nuclear energy program.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Monday following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Ashton said, "I'm expecting the technical discussions to resume very quickly... It's a very sensitive diplomatic process. It's important that we refrain from actions that could delay the process."
Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to find a way forward in the talks
Zarif has described the latest US sanctions as “extremely counterproductive” and against the “very aim of the negotiations,” but said Tehran is committed to reaching a final comprehensive agreement with the world powers over its nuclear energy program.
Iran and the Group 5+1 (also known as P5+1 and E3+3) on November 24 signed a six-month deal on Tehran’s nuclear program based on which the world powers agreed to suspend some non-essential sanctions and to imposed no new nuclear-related bans in return for Tehran's decision to freeze parts of its nuclear activities and to allow more inspection of its nuclear facilities.
The goal is to create a breathing space for a comprehensive agreement to be negotiated that the sides hope will be able to resolve for good the standoff over Iran's nuclear program after a decade of on-off meetings and failed attempts.