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Kerry, Zarif to Hold Nuclear Talks

Source: VOA

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will meet in Munich Friday to discuss the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. The talks, to be held on the sidelines of a security conference, follow a pair of meetings the diplomats held on the topic last month.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif engaged in nuclear negotiations
artwork by Mohammad Tahani, Arman daily

The State Department had initially said the Kerry-Zarif meeting would take place Saturday. But a senior U.S. official later confirmed it would be held Friday.

Iran and a group that includes the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany are trying to reach a framework agreement by March 24 as part of their years-long effort to resolve questions about Iranian nuclear activity. They have given themselves until July 1 to agree to a final deal.

The so-called P5+1 group wants Iran to scale back its nuclear activity and ensure it is not developing nuclear weapons. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is peaceful, and wants the repeal of sanctions that have hurt its economy.

Last week Senator Robert Menendez, who is leading an effort to impose more sanctions against Iran, said he would hold off on his bill until after the March 24 deadline.

"Many of my Democratic colleagues and I have sent a letter to the president," he said, "telling him that we will not support passage of the Kirk-Menendez amendment on the Senate floor, until after March 24th, and only if there is no political framework agreement, because, as the letter states, we remain hopeful that diplomacy will succeed in reversing Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability."

Menendez said he was still skeptical that Iran truly wanted to reach a deal.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron oppose new sanctions that they have said could jeopardize the ongoing negotiations.

Pam Dockins contributed to this report from Munich.

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