BALI, Indonesia — Warming relations between the United States and Iran do not mean that the United States will back off its demands about Iran’s nuclear program, or roll back missile defenses in Europe aimed at intercepting an Iranian attack, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday.
On the sidelines of the U.N. meeting in New York, Kerry had an unusual meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and President Obama telephoned Rouhani for the first direct contact between leaders of the two nations since before the 1979 Iranian revolution and takeover of the U.S. Embassy.
Lavrov, who plans to attend next week’s much-anticipated nuclear meeting in Switzerland, said the international group negotiating with Iran wants “a roadmap which would, at the end of the day, satisfy the international community that the Iranian nuclear program is entirely peaceful,” and pulled under the full control of international nuclear monitors.
“Iran probably wants more clarity, more specific steps to be spelled out on the road to the result which we all want to achieve.,” Lavrov said. “And I think this would be discussed next week in Geneva.”
A Russian reporter asked Kerry whether the apparent thaw in the long U.S.-Iranian enmity means that the missile defense architecture is no longer needed. Russia has been opposed for years to U.S. plans to defend European allies with a network of interceptors. The United States insists the system is defensive and built with Iran in mind. Russian leaders have long questioned that.
“The talk of these first days and the exchanges of a couple of meetings and a phone call do not indicate a closeness,” Kerry said. “They indicate an opportunity. They indicate the opening of a door or a window to some discussion.”
While Washington is eager to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, it’s too early to say whether the thaw begun at the United Nations last month will lead to a change in U.S. policy, Kerry said.
“It’s way too premature to make any determinations about where we would wind up with respect to the deployment of the missile defense,” Kerry said. “As long as that threat is there, we still have to deal with that issue.”
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