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Kerry and Iran's Zarif Hold Nuclear Talks

Source: RFE/RL

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Geneva to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have held two hours of talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

The meeting on February 22 in Geneva included for the first time U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

The two spent most of the day separately negotiating technical details of curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Zarif told Iranian state media that mid-level bilateral talks had produced "good discussions but no agreements", and some differences remained.

Zarif said the inclusion of Moniz and Salehi reflected a need "for higher level people with all-embracing command over all issues."

Kerry on February 21 cautioned against reading too much into the presence of Moniz in Geneva, which U.S. officials aid was decided after Iran announced Salahi would attend.

Kerry and Zarif are due to meet again later on February 23.

World powers and Iran have set an end of March deadline for a framework agreement, with four further months for the technical work to be ironed out.

Iran's negotiations with "P5+1" - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - have already missed a November 2014 target date.

Obama has said a further extension would make little sense without a basis for continuing discussions.

Kerry said on February 21 there was no doubt Obama was serious.

The president, he said, "is fully prepared to stop these talks if he feels that they're not being met with the kind of productive decision-making necessary to prove that a program is in fact peaceful."

Zarif said Iranian President Hassan Rohani, would not accept a small, short-term agreement, nor a broad accord that left room for interpretation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 22 that it was "astonishing" that the talks, which could end by allowing Iran "to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence," were proceeding.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2015 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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