Jul 15, 2014, 1:00 AM
News Code: 81237716
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Zarif-Kerry-Ashton meeting ends in Vienna

Vienna, July 15, IRNA – Trilateral meeting of Iranian and US foreign ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif and John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton ended here after 120 minutes of intensive talks over Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

The three top diplomats' trilateral meeting in Vienna's Cobourg Hotel was aimed at summing up the outcome of their own intensive and contextual bilateral and trilateral meetings in the course of the past two days, according to the IRNA reporter here.



The US Secretary of State John Kerry told the reporters before leaving the Cobourg Hotel, 'We are working hard.'



Kerry meanwhile told them optimistically, 'We had good talks that need to continue.'



Zarif and Kerry have since yesterday held over four hours of bilateral talks along with their deputies.



An Iranian diplomat said here Monday that the Iran-US talks were 'intensified, detailed and contextual', opining, 'It is still too soon to judge whether achieving a comprehensive agreement by July 20 is possible, or not.'



The Iranian diplomat who spoke to IRNA on Monday evening on condition of anonymity on the latest status of the Iran-Sextet nuclear talks added that the intensive, contextual talks with the EU-US delegations still go on.



IRNA asked whether the face-to-face Kerry-Zarif talks during the past two days could be a sign for approaching a mutual understanding.



'Could be, but for making certain it is still too soon, as I earlier mentioned,' said the Iranian diplomat.



He said that basically the two sides' viewpoints have not changed much and with the July 20 deadline approaching both the Iranian and the Sextet side are trying to achieve that goal.



The ministers of foreign affairs of the US, Britain, France and Germany jointed the Iran-5+1 Group nuclear talks on the 12th day of the Vienna 6 talks so that decision making at ministerial level over the major points of disagreement will get easier.



Under such conditions that the top diplomats of China and Russia did not respond to the European head of the Sextet's invitation to join the nuclear talks in its midway positively, the foreign ministers of three European countries left Vienna after two days of intensive talks, but the US secretary of state is till residing in Vienna's Cobourg Marriott Hotel.



That is partly due to the fact that a major part of the remaining points of disagreement, including a time schedule for lifting the sanctions are related directly to the US.



Zarif had said last night after a five-hour round of talks with his US and EU counterparts and the deputy Russian and Chinese foreign ministers in a press conference that although the differences of opinion are not fully resolved yet, 'but we still have seven days of tough, intensive talks ahead of us, that could lead to a historical agreement.'



A top US State Department official, too, announced on Monday that Secretary of State John Kerry has allocated appropriate time for detailed talks with his Iranian counterpart.



'There are still lots of issues to be discussed, keeping in mind the rapidly approaching July 20 deadline,' he said.



The American official said that two of Kerry's objectives in visiting Vienna include engagement in dialogues with precise details, and observing the extent of Iran's readiness for making major required decisions.



That is while the US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he had a good meeting with his Iranian counterpart and a senior European Union official over Tehran's nuclear program ahead of a July 20 deadline for an agreement.



'We are working. We are working very hard. A lot of serious discussions. It was a good meeting,' he told reporters after the two-hour session with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.



It was the second day of talks between Kerry and Zarif as they try to narrow wide differences in negotiating positions over a deal intended to end a decade-long dispute over nuclear work which Tehran says is peaceful.



A senior US State Department official said Kerry, Ashton - who is coordinating discussions with Iran on behalf of six world powers, including the United States - and Zarif had a 'lengthy and productive meeting', but that more work was required.



The powers want Tehran to significantly scale back its nuclear enrichment program. Iran wants sanctions lifted as soon as possible.



Some diplomats and experts have said a deal by July 20 is unlikely and that they will need to extend the negotiating period.



However, Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann told reporters that the sides were still trying to get a deal by the target date.



'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.'



Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday added his brother, Hassan Fereydoun, to the Iranian nuclear negotiation team, which is interpreted by some analysts as a move similar to the US secretary of state's remaining in Geneva for a longer period than his European counterparts.

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