Geneva talks moving closer to accord: Iran deputy FM

336137_Seyyed-Abbas-AraqchiA senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official says Iran is moving closer to an accord with the six world powers in the Geneva talks on the country’s nuclear energy program.

“To a good degree, we have moved (closer) towards agreement,” Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, said on Friday, the third day of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany.

Araqchi, who is also a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, stated that despite “progress made today, some main issues still remain” between the two sides.

Commenting on Iranian media reports that the six world powers have accepted the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium, Araqchi said, “I neither confirm nor deny” that differences over the issue have been resolved “because the negotiations have not yet finalized.”

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with Press TV that Tehran will not negotiate its right to uranium enrichment.

“Our right to enrichment is our red line,” Iran’s chief diplomat said.

Hopes are now rising that a final deal that many say could end the standoff over the Iranian nuclear energy program is just around the corner as US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers of world powers gather in Geneva to join the talks.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle are set to join the talks, while British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter that he would be in Geneva on Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Swiss city on Friday afternoon and held a meeting with Zarif and later with European Union foreign policy chief Ashton.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also left for Geneva to join the negotiations as the talks extend to a fourth day.

Iran and the six countries are now preparing for the fourth day of talks to hammer out an interim deal to pave the ground for the resolution of the West’s decade-old standoff with Iran over its nuclear energy program.

The talks, which started on Wednesday, had initially been scheduled to end on Friday.

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