PARIS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met for nearly an hour with his Iranian counterpart in Paris on Friday in what was their second face-to-face encounter this week.
The meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif took place at Kerry’s hotel in the French capital before he returned to Washington. The pair spent six hours together in Geneva on Wednesday on the eve of a new round of nuclear negotiations among Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
The Paris meeting came as the negotiators in Geneva grappled to reach a framework accord that would address international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program by a March target date.
Some in Congress are eager to impose new, punishing sanctions on Iran.
But President Barack Obama told Democratic senators at a closed-door retreat Thursday in Baltimore that he would veto Iran sanctions legislation, arguing strenuously that it would undercut negotiations with Tehran, according to a person who attended the meeting.
The president also had a tense exchange with Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., a leading supporter of sanctions who is working closely with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois on new penalties.
The Iranian foreign ministry also said Kerry and Zarif discussed the case of a Washington Post reporter who has been indicted and will stand trial in Iran.
Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted Friday by the official IRNA news agency as saying Kerry raised the issue with Zarif on the sidelines of the nuclear talks in Geneva this week. There was no immediate confirmation from the State Department.
Kerry was in Paris to show U.S. solidarity with France following last week’s terrorist attacks, and Zarif was in the city primarily to see French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
France has taken a tough public line on the negotiations, and French President Francois Hollande reiterated that point on Friday in a speech to 200 foreign diplomats.
“France wants a final agreement but not in any conditions,” he said. “With a clear approach: Yes to access of Iran to civil nuclear energy, no to its access to nuclear weapon. We won’t compromise on that principle.”
By The Associated Press
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