TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany) held serious negotiations on Friday, a British spokesperson said on Saturday.
“Serious negotiations were held on Friday,” a spokesperson of the British foreign ministry told FNA today.
Asked if there is any hope for reaching an agreement between Iran and the world powers, the spokesperson said he doesn’t want to make speculations about this issue.
FNA dispatches from Geneva said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who arrived on Friday, will be joined by his French counterpart Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The US State Department said late Friday that its head, John Kerry, is heading for Geneva as well.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will also be attending as will his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, whose arrival was announced by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
The Iranian and G5+1 delegations are holding intense negotiations to find a way for the settlement of Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters after four rounds of talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs the delegations of the six world powers, in Geneva on Friday that negotiations have become serious and hopes for striking a deal are still alive.
“The talks have now entered serious stages, and when the negotiations are serious, there are many ups and downs,” Zarif told reporters after his fourth bilateral meeting with Ashton on Friday.
He said the teams of Iran and the six world powers focused today on writing the text of the agreement, with their discussions mainly focused on points of difference.
It has been said that the Iranian and the world powers’ delegations have differences over three or four items mainly, but Zarif said one or two are the main bones of contention and the rest are not much significant.
“As long as we have not come into terms over everything, it can be said that we have not achieved agreement on anything. Many of these issues are about to be solved,” Zarif said.
“It can be said that there is a room for hope,” he said.
Asked how much progress he perceives for the present talks, he said, “Progress depends on how ready the delegations (of the six world powers) are to reach a solution. If they are ready, attaining the result will be possible.”
Asked if his debates with Ashton are mainly about Iran’s right of uranium enrichment, Zarif said Tehran stands on its nuclear rights firmly, adding that recognition of Iran’s uranium enrichment right will be part of any deal which might be struck between the country and the six world powers.
“Enrichment is a right that Iran will not withdraw from in any nuclear negotiation with the 5+1,” he said.
“The Islamic Republic’s enrichment program will be a major part in any solution and any negotiation.”
After the negotiators of Iran and the world powers were about to strike a deal in the previous round of the talks in Geneva earlier this month, but a last ditch effort by the French foreign minister ruined the chances, now again senior negotiators of the two sides say that good progress has been made in the negotiations in the last two days.
Despite previous rounds of the talks that Iranian representatives attended multilateral talks with the delegations of the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany), the present talks have been limited to bilateral meetings between Zarif and Ashton.
After the sudden change in the course of the talks last time, Iran said the world powers should guarantee that they would not do the same if chances arise again for striking a deal.
This has caused the multilateral talks to change into Zarif-Ashton bilateral meetings.
The two top diplomats have already had four sessions since Wednesday, when the new round started.
Following the fourth session, Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann told FNA that the talks have been “useful”.
Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi, who is a senior member of the Iranian team of negotiators, also told reporters that “the morning session between Zarif and Ashton was “good and positive” and the talks may continue tomorrow.
He said the fourth meeting was ended because “Ms. Ashton intended to do consultations with the 5+1”.
The Iranian negotiator said there has been a feeling of progress in the talks, “but it is still too soon to judge the results”.
He declined to talk about the details of the talks, but said, “Iran and the 5+1’s discussions are now focused on enrichment. We have declared that enrichment is our redline.”
Asked if France has shown any flexibility compared with its previous stance, he said, “We are negotiating with Mrs. Ashton and she presents the collective view of the six powers now.”
“Negotiations are moving on a positive track,” Takht Ravanchi said.
A very probable deal on the third day of the last round of talks in Geneva (November 7-9) suddenly changed course to a failure due to the negative stances of France.
When after a day of progressive negotiations, Ashton called Kerry to rush to Geneva to go a few more miles because a deal was possible, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started hues and cries to stop the deal.
Netanyahu “utterly” denounced the possible agreement in the course of the nuclear talks as “very, very bad”.
Kerry rushed to Tel Aviv to soothe Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns, but he apparently failed. The debates between the two grew so unfriendly that Kerry even excused himself from taking photos with Netanyahu, saying he has a tight schedule and should rush to Geneva.
Then Netanyahu made more ballyhoos making US President Barack Obama contact him to alleviate his concerns.
Unsatisfied with Obama’s explanations, the Israeli prime minister called the French asking them to go to Geneva to stop the agreement.
Then, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who was not invited to the Geneva talks, called Ashton urging that he needs to be present there. Surprised Ashton was then forced to call in Fabius’s British and German counterparts to the talks as well.
Fabius appeared on several media and warned that Israel’s “concerns” must be taken into consideration.
“It is necessary to take fully into account Israel’s security concerns and those of the region,” Fabius told France Inter radio in Geneva at the beginning of the third day of (the last round of the) talks (November 9) between Iran and the world powers.
Analysts believe that Israel, the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle-East with 200-400 warheads, fears a rapprochement between Iran and the US, its main alley.
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