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Iran hopes Luxembourg meeting can boost nuclear talks

Published on 22/06/2015

A top Iranian official said he hopes a meeting Monday with three European foreign ministers will address key disagreements in nuclear talks, noting that "this marathon is nearing its end".

Abbas Araghchi, a negotiator, said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is due in Luxembourg for discussions with his British, French and German counterparts on the potentially historic accord that could resolve a 12-year dispute over the Islamic republic’s atomic programme.

A final deal is due by June 30.

“Differences on the text of the agreement have been reduced but the progress hasn’t been what we expected,” said Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister who was to join Zarif, according to state television.

Araghchi has been in Vienna where talks between experts from Iran and the P5+1 bloc (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) have sought to narrow gaps.

“We hope that during the meeting of the ministers today there will be more discussion about differences in several key issues,” Araghchi said.

The meeting is to take place on the sidelines of the monthly meeting of heads of diplomacy of European Union members.

Zarif will hold talks with Britain’s Philip Hammond, Laurent Fabius of France, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and later a joint meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

There will then be bilateral talks between Iran and the three ministers.

Iran and the P5+1 have been engaged in negotiations for 21 months on ending international concern that Iran is developing an atomic bomb, an allegation denied by Tehran.

It is “probable” that US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been recovering from a broken leg, will travel to Vienna “at the end of this week” for bilateral talks ahead of the June 30 deadline, said Araghchi.

“The rest of P5+1 foreign ministers are expected to join. This marathon is nearing its end,” he added.

World powers say a final agreement must guarantee the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. In exchange, international sanctions that have ravaged Iran’s economy would be lifted.