Araqchi: Drafting comprehensive agreement as of Wednesday, hopefully

Vienna, June 18, IRNA – Iranian top nuclear negotiator Seyyed Abbas Araqchi here Tuesday described 5th round of nuclear talks as positive and constructive, hoping that drafting the text of a final comprehensive agreement will begin as of Wednesday.

“We hope to begin drafting its text as of tomorrow, not beginning with major issues though, but drafting its general framework and its prelude,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs said late Tuesday night, Vienna local time, in a press conference.

Emphasizing that both sides are negotiating seriously, he said that describing the talks as positive does not mean that either side is compromising over its stands, which is why till achieving a shared satisfactory stand for both sides there is still a long way to go and lots of hard work to be done.

“We hope to achieve the initial text in this round of talks, although it might include tens, and even hundreds of sentences on differences of opinion,” said Araqchi.

Pointing out that the two sides have completed 12 to 13 hours of negotiations during the past two days, he emphasized: We hope the general framework of the text will be achieved and agreed upon.

**Iraq issue referred to, but not discussed

In response to a reporter’s question “Whether the Iraq issue was discussed during the bilateral Iran-US talks?” Araqchi said that the truth of the matter is that the negotiations were merely focused on the nuclear subject and its related issues.

“But when a meeting takes place inclusive of diplomats, they naturally refer to the major world developments, and that is something quite natural,” he added.

He further reiterated that this “referring to” differs with “discussing a matter”, adding that the sidelines and marginal talks should be differentiated with the main course of the discussions.

“Iran has had no negotiation with the United States about Iraq (within the course of the nuclear talks) and will not do so (there) but when (we and them are) faced with horrendous images and the ruthless massacre of the human beings, which is the major world news today, naturally it will be referred to in more than one occasion,” said the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s top negotiator.

“It is inaccurate to refer to those short references as negotiating over the issue, or addressing it,” stressed Araqchi.

That is while the Iranian top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, too, had earlier on Tuesday told IRNA in Vienna that although the Iraq issue had been mentioned in Iran-US talks in the course of the Vienna 5 negotiations, but the topic of the talks with the Americans was merely the nuclear issue, and referring to Iraq was merely due to aggravation of the status there.

“The topic of the trilateral Iran-US-EU Foreign Policy Chief Ms. Ashton talks was merely the nuclear issue, similar to the topic of the Iran-5+1G talks,” he said.

Zarif added that yet, similar to referring to Iraq issue due to the unleashed inhumane crimes committed by the ISIS terrorists in Iraq in bilateral talks with Ms. Ashton, the same was true in trilateral talks with her and the US.

Zarif, Ashton, and the US Deputy Secretary of State William Joseph Burns on Monday held a two and a half hour trilateral talk on the sidelines of the Geneva 5 nuclear talks.

The United States could end up cooperating with Iran to stop militant gains in Iraq, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Monday in an interview with Yahoo!News.

But a Pentagon spokesman denied Monday that any military coordination with Iran is in the cards.

In his interview with Yahoo!News, Kerry didnˈt say that cooperation with Iran is under active discussion inside the administration.

ˈLetˈs see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements,ˈ he said.

But he went on to say that the he ˈwouldnˈt rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability.ˈ

ˈI think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together — the integrity of the country — and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart,ˈ Kerry said.

His comments are the first time such a high-ranking US official has made such a public statement since militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began an offensive that has seen vast swaths of northern Iraq fall out of government hands.

Two senior US officials said earlier that the Obama administration is exploring possible direct talks with Iran over the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is in Vienna for nuclear talks with Iran and could hold discussions on the side about Iraq with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a senior administration official said in a background briefing with reporters Monday.

In fact, the United States and Iran held ˈvery brief discussionsˈ about Iraq and the threat posed by ISIS on the sidelines of those negotiations, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNNˈs ˈThe Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.ˈ



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