Vienna (Alliance News) – With only three days left to bridge significant differences, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Vienna on Friday for talks aimed at ensuring that Iran does not get nuclear weapons.
The meeting was also attended by former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who continues to act as the chief negotiator of the six world powers. The aim is to clinch a deal that would reduce Iran’s uranium enrichment capacities over several years, in return for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.
Zarif has been negotiating with senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany since Tuesday, but they have made little progress so far, diplomats say.
Iran and the sextet have set Monday as the deadline for reaching an agreement, but Western diplomats say the negotiations may have to be extended.
“We are all working in concert on this and we hope we can define the finish line and get there,” Kerry said shortly before he arrived in Vienna late on Thursday.
Kerry’s British and French counterparts, Philip Hammond and Laurent Fabius, are expected to arrive in the Austrian capital later on Friday for meetings with Zarif. Diplomats say the British and the French will press Zarif for concessions.
Iran and the sextet have made some progress on several issues in recent months, including on technical changes to Iran’s Arak reactor that would prevent it from turning out plutonium as a side product.
However, both sides still disagree on how much uranium Iran will be allowed to enrich to make reactor fuel, and how fast sanctions will be lifted in return.
The sextet is worried that Iran could use enriched uranium or plutonium to build weapons, while Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology only for electricity and other civilian uses.
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