US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L), US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd-L), US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (3rd-L), National Security Council point person on the Middle East Robert Malley (4th-L), European Union Political Director Helga Schmid (rear-L), head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (3rd-R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (2nd-R) wait for the start of a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne on March 26, 2015. (photo by Bahman Zarehei, Islamic Republic News Agency)
Iranian and US diplomacy chiefs have kicked off a fresh round of talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne as part of broader negotiations between Iran and six world powers aimed at clinching a final deal over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Thursday’s talks between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry come hot on the heels of deputy-level negotiations a day earlier which brought together Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and EU deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid in Lausanne.
Also present in Thursday’s negotiations are US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi as well as the four officials who sat down for talks Wednesday - Araqchi, Takht-e Ravanchi, Sherman and Schmid.
Zarif and his negotiating team had continued their intense marathon talks with the American side in Lausanne the previous week when the top Iranian diplomat also took some time to meet one-on-one in the Belgian capital of Brussels with the European foreign ministers of the P5+1 group - Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Philip Hammond of Britain and France’s Laurent Fabius. Zarif also sad down with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.
Nevertheless, the days-long negotiations last week were suspended on March 20 as members of the P5+1 group - the US, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany - needed a short hiatus in the talks for further coordination among themselves.
Meanwhile, senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi also confirmed the suspension of the talks, saying the P5+1 group were to have “more consultation and coordination.”
Moreover, Zarif and Kerry both announced that the negotiating teams had made headway in the talks.
Zarif said, “We made good progress over this week,” comments echoed by his US opposite number John Kerry by saying, “We made a lot of progress.”
Tehran and the six world powers have been in talks to resolve outstanding issues surrounding Iran’s peaceful atomic work to pave the way for striking an overarching deal on the country’s nuclear program.
Iran wants all sanctions lifted
Zarif has reiterated that Iran wants all sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear energy program lifted.
"This (removal of sanctions) is a viewpoint that the government has insisted on since the very beginning," said the top diplomat in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Wednesday before leaving for Lausanne.
He termed the Iran-P5+1 negotiations as "good," adding,"We are making every effort to continue on this path."
Zarif further expressed hope that the negotiating sides will reach a "win-win outcome" in the talks.
Serious decisions needed
Takht-e Ravanchi also highlighted on Wednesday that "serious decisions" should be made in the nuclear negotiations.
"The talks have reached a point where serious decisions need to be made," said the nuclear negotiator.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and nuclear negotiator Majid Takht-e Ravanchi
He expressed hope that the "other side will be able to make this tough decision."
The diplomat highlighted that the parties to the talks have considerably narrowed their differences, but that "one or two fundamental issues remain which we hope will be settled as well."
He underscored that no issue other than Iran's nuclear program is on the agenda during the ongoing talks.
All outstanding issues should be resolved
Hamid Baeedinejad, who is also on the Iranian negotiating team said on Wednesday that all outstanding issues pertaining to Tehran's nuclear program should be resolved in the talks.
Hamid Baeedinejad, an Iranian nuclear negotiator
"The remaining issues are not only the sanctions, but include a whole raft of issues and we are currently in the final stages of [settling] them."
He said all issues are considered as a single package and should be resolved at the same time.
"All these issues are interrelated. Sanctions, [uranium] enrichment and research development are issues which should be resolved together and in single package."
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