Iran's Zarif downplays nuclear deal prospects in Switzerland

18th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif played down Wednesday the chances of reaching a nuclear agreement during talks under way this week in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Foreign ministers of the other countries negotiating with Iran are unlikely to be required in Lausanne to approve a deal, said Zarif, who has been holding two-way talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"I don't think their presence will be needed in this round because when the solutions are found and we approach a deal, then all the foreign ministers of the negotiating parties should come," state media quoted him as saying.

"They might come, but at this stage I wouldn't think they are needed," he repeated, referring to the top diplomats of the so-called P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany).

On day three of talks with Kerry, Zarif said "there are differences and we are trying to reduce them," by Thursday evening, with political directors of the 5+1 countries starting to arrive in Lausanne Wednesday.

"We must find solutions," he said.

"The question of an agreement comes when we have solutions written on paper, and to write the solutions we need the experts more than foreign ministers."

The minister said the two sides had reached "very fine details in the negotiations, and details always require more work".

Zarif was speaking after a two-hour meeting with Kerry, according to the US State Department. Beforehand, US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation chief Ali Akbar Salehi met.

Meanwhile in Tehran, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham emphasised "good progress" on the technical issues discussed between Salehi and Moniz.

"Many technical questions have been resolved and, in the meantime, political discussions on sanctions continue," she added.

Afkham did not confirm a new round of talks next week.

"We should wait and see how this round goes and what the schedule will be like until the last day," she said.

On Tuesday, the United States said the chances of clinching a political framework agreement by the end of March were 50-50.

The sides then aim to have a full deal by July 1.

Such a deal, they hope, will convince the world that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian programme, a goal Tehran strenuously denies having.

© 2015 AFP

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