Senior negotiators of Iran and the world powers present in Geneva for talks over Iran’s nuclear program said good progress has been made in the negotiations between the two sides in the last two days.
Despite previous rounds of the talks that Iranian representatives attended multilateral talks with the delegations of the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany), the present talks have been limited to bilateral meetings between Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who presides over the delegations of the world powers.
After France ruined the chances for a deal between Iran and the six world powers in the last moment of the previous round of the talks in Geneva on November 9, Iran said the world powers should gurantee that they would not do the same if chances arise again for striking a deal.
This has caused the multilateral talks to change into Zarif-Ashton bilateral meetings.
The two top diplomats have already had four sessions since Wednesday, when the new round started.
Reports said the fourth session on Friday morning was ended minutes ago since Ashton wanted to consult with the diplomats of the G5+1.
Following the fourth session, Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann told FNA that the talks have been “useful”.
Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi, who is a senior member of the Iranian team of negotiators, also told reporters that “the morning session between Zarif and Ashton was “good and positive” and the talks may continue tomorrow.
He said the fourth meeting was ended because “Mrs. Ashton intended to do consultations with the 5+1”.
The Iranian negotiator said there has been a feeling of progress in the talks, “but it is still too soon to judge the results”.
He declined to talk about the details of the talks, but said, “Iran and the 5+1’s discussions are now focused on enrichment. We have declared that enrichment is our redline.”
Asked if France has shown any flexibility compared with its previous stance, he said, “We are negotiating with Mrs. Ashton and she presents the collective view of the six powers now.”
“Negotiations are moving on a positive track,” Takht Ravanchi said.
A very probable deal on the third day of the last round of talks in Geneva (November 7-9) suddenly changed course to a failure due to the negative stances of France.
When after a day of progressive negotiations, Ashton called on US Secretary of State John Kerry to rush to Geneva to go a few more miles because a deal was possible, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started hues and cries to stop the deal.
Netanyahu “utterly” denounced the possible agreement in the course of the nuclear talks as “very, very bad”.
Kerry rushed to Tel Aviv to soothe Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns, but he apparently failed. The debates between the two grew so unfriendly that Kerry even excused himself from taking photos with Netanyahu, saying he has a tight schedule and should rush to Geneva.
Then Netanyahu made more ballyhoos making US President Barack Obama contact him to alleviate his concerns.
Unsatisfied with Obama’s explanations, the Israeli prime minister called the French asking them to go to Geneva to stop the agreement.
Then, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who was not invited to the Geneva talks, called Ashton urging that he needs to be present there. Surprised Ashton was then forced to call in Fabius’s British and German counterparts to the talks as well.
Fabius appeared on several media and warned that Israel’s “concerns” must be taken into consideration.
“It is necessary to take fully into account Israel’s security concerns and those of the region,” Fabius told France Inter radio in Geneva at the beginning of the third day of (the last round of the) talks (November 9) between Iran and the world powers.
Analysts believe that Israel, the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle-East with 200-400 warheads, fears a rapprochement between Iran and the US, its main alley.