“We have always said that negotiations are restricted to nuclear discussions,” Zarif, also Iran’s top negotiator in the talks with the world powers, told reporters on Friday.
He further said it is not clear yet if the negotiations would continue after the Monday deadline. Yet he underlined that the Iranian team is “ready for negotiations”.
Earlier today, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi voiced optimism about the trend of the ongoing talks between Tehran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany), but meantime said there is still a serious gap between Tehran and the western powers.
“All differences are serious and we are trying to reduce these differences,” Araqchi, also a senior negotiator in the talks with the world powers, told reporters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“… we are still hopeful and optimistic, but it is still soon to state if we will be able to obtain a solution on all issues or not,” he added.
He noted that both sides are trying to reach a solution on all issues first and then write down the solutions in black and white in the coming months.
Araqchi pointed to the Iran-G5+1 meetings on Friday, and said, “Bilateral and multilateral meetings at the level of experts, deputy FMs, and FMs will be held today and we hope these meetings lead to progress in the negotiations.”
He noted that the Iranian negotiators will stay in Lausanne as long as needed.
Iran and G5+1 started their new round of talks in Lausanne on Thursday.
The last round of talks between the Iranian and US nuclear negotiators ended in Lausanne last Friday afternoon in the presence of Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, their deputies, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, US Secretary of Energy Moniz, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and her deputy Helga Schmidt. The Iranian negotiators returned to Tehran on Saturday to participate in ceremonies celebrating the Iranian new year (which started on March 21).
Zarif said on Saturday that Tehran and the 5+1 group of powers had found technical and political solutions to their differences.
“Proper technical and political solutions have been found for the issues which couldn’t be solved in the past,” Zarif wrote on his facebook page.
“We were ready for negotiations, but the other sides needed more time for coordination,” he added.
“We have decided to return to Geneva on Wednesday to continue the talks, and God willingly, finalize the details of the solutions,” Zarif said.
After the last round of talks with powers last Friday, Araqchi said that the US and European countries needed more consultations and arrangements with their governments to continue talks with Iran.
Talks between Iran and G5+1 were very serious and extensive, he said, adding that nuclear teams at this juncture are in need of more negotiations and coordination.
Owing to the same reason, foreign ministers of the European states and the US met in Berlin on Saturday to get ready for the new round of the negotiations today.
Iran and the G5+1 are negotiating to narrow their differences over Tehran’s nuclear energy program ahead of a July 1 deadline.
Zarif underlined on Friday that the ball was in Washington’s court to make a choice between a final deal or ineffective pressures against Tehran.
“Iranians have already made their choice: Engage with dignity,” Zarif wrote in his tweeter page.
“It’s high time for the US and its allies to chose: pressure or agreement,” he added.
Earlier this month, Salehi announced that Tehran and Washington had overcome their differences on technical issues with regard to Iran’s nuclear program in most of the cases, adding that both sides were trying to resolve the remaining technical problems.
“We have agreed on 90 percent of technical issues,” Salehi said after his second meeting with Moniz in Lausanne, Switzerland, in mid March.
“There has only remained one very important point of difference that we will try to resolve in the evening talks,” he added.
Both Iran and the G5+1 negotiators have underlined that cutting a final deal before the July 10 deadline is possible.
In relevant remarks earlier this month, Zarif said there was still a good chance for the success of the nuclear talks between Tehran and the world powers, but meantime underlined that failure of the negotiations would never mean the end of world to Iran.
“There is still an over 50-percent chance for the attainment of an agreement and I feel that both sides believe that success and attainment of an agreement will be much better and useful than failure in the negotiations; yet, failure in reaching an understanding will not be the end of the world but both sides have spent their time and political prestige in the success of these talks,” Zarif said in an interview.
He stressed that the chances for the failure of the talks would be alive as long as agreement was not attained on all issues and details, and said, “As it was said in the Geneva agreement (November 2013), as long as an agreement is not made on all issues, nothing has been agreed on.”
Asked about the removal of the sanctions against Iran, Zarif said, “Removal of the UN Security Council sanctions aren’t complicated and merely depends on the political will (of the other side).”