TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A top Iranian negotiator engaged in nuclear talks between Tehran and six world powers said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry have held “difficult, but useful” talks in Vienna.
Speaking to Japan’s Kyodo News Agency on Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi added that Tehran still believes it is not necessary to think about an extension of nuclear negotiations with world powers beyond a July 20 deadline.
His comments came after Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif held talks with his American counterpart for two straight days in the Austrian capital Vienna.
It was unclear whether Kerry and Zarif would meet again on Tuesday.
Since July 2, delegates from Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) have launched a fresh round of high-profile talks in Vienna in a bid to hammer out a comprehensive deal on Tehran’s nuclear case before a self-imposed July 20 deadline.
After ending a session with Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Monday, Kerry said, “We are working. We are working very hard. A lot of serious discussions. It was a good meeting.”
A senior US State Department official has also announced that Zarif, Kerry and Ashton –who liaises with Iran on behalf of the six powers- had a “lengthy and productive meeting”, but that more work was required.
With time running short, Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann told reporters that the negotiating parties were still trying to strike a deal by the target date, July 20.
“We are determined to try and get an agreement by July 20. There are still significant gaps and we are trying to narrow those down … we still have some time. There is a text and there are still brackets around the main issues.”
There is a possibility that the talks on a comprehensive deal could be extended for as long as six months.
An interim agreement between Iran and the six powers, signed in Geneva in November 2013, included a provision for lengthening talks on a permanent agreement as far out as next January if all sides agree. But even an extension would have to be negotiated.
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