Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry resume crucial talks on Tehran’s nuclear program in Vienna as a self-imposed deadline for a deal is to expire in hours.
The top Iranian and US diplomats held closed-door talks at Palais Coburg Hotel in the Austrian capital on Tuesday.
Speaking after his meeting with Kerry, the Iranian foreign minister said he has a mandate to negotiate and clinch a final nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of world powers.
“I didn’t go [to Tehran] to get a mandate. I already had a mandate to negotiate and I’m here to get a final deal and I think we can,” Zarif said.
After the 1.5-hour one-on-one meeting, Iranian deputy foreign ministers, Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, European Union deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Robert Maley of the US National Security Council joined Zarif and Kerry.
Also present in the talks were Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi and Hossein Fereydoun, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s top aide, as well as US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Iranians seek “just” deal: Zarif
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Vienna on Tuesday, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator said the talks between Tehran and the six world powers have reached a “very sensitive” phase.
“The only agreement that the Iranian nation will accept is a just and balanced deal based on the national dignity and the rights of the Iranian people,” Zarif said.
He added that the “political will” of the P5+1 countries “will facilitate work on reaching an acceptable and lasting” agreement.
“I think the opposite [negotiating] side has also come to a reality that it will not be possible to reach a long-term agreement without a good agreement and without recognizing the Iranian people’s rights,” Zarif pointed out.
“All the Iranian officials have said they are ready for rational and wise negotiations and trade-off,” he said.
He emphasized that a final deal should be in accordance with the parameters of an agreement reached between the two sides in the Swiss city of Lausanne in April, saying, “In that case, it is possible to reach a resolution.”
Continuation of talks for good deal
Meanwhile, a member of the Iranian negotiating team said on Tuesday that Iran and the six global powers would proceed with the nuclear talks within the next couple of days “in order to reach a good deal.”
“There is no word about the extension of talks,” the Iranian negotiator added.
He noted that Iran and the P5+1 countries have made “very little progress” on drafting the text of the final nuclear deal but they are advancing the work.
Following the meeting between Zarif and Kerry, the Iranian foreign minister started private talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov held negotiations with Austrian President Heinz Fischer. The Russian foreign minister is set to meet with Kerry and and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier later in the day.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany are holding talks to finalize the text of a possible deal over Iran’s nuclear program by the end of June.
The two sides reached a mutual understanding on the key parameters of the potential deal in Lausanne on April 2.