US Secretary of State John Kerry says a deal with Iran over its nuclear program could come in as little as three months, as Washington and Tehran hold their first high-level meeting in more than three decades.
Kerry, and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sat next to each other at the seven-nation meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, and proceeded to hold a bilateral discussion of more than 20 minutes afterwards.
The UN meeting was chaired by the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who announced that the parties would meet again in Geneva on 15-16 October to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.
Zarif and Kerry said it was possible that the two of them would attend the Geneva meeting.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has called for “constructive engagement” with the West, said in a newspaper interview on Wednesday that he hopes for a nuclear agreement to be reached in three to six months.
“The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that’s short,” Rouhani was quoted as telling the Washington Post.
Hours before his a one-on-one meeting with Iran’s top diplomat, Kerry stated that “it’s possible” to strike a deal within the timeframe set out by the Iranian president.
“It’s possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be,” he said an interview with CBS which will be broadcast on Sunday.
Kerry also said that Washington could begin lifting sanctions on Tehran within months if a “transparent process is in place” regarding the nuclear issue.
“The United States is not going to lift the sanctions until it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is going be doing with its program,” he said.
The Iranian president, who took office on August 4, has promised that Tehran would respond properly to Washington’s “practical and constructive” moves.
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