Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sets off for the Austrian capital of Vienna to launch sensitive talks with P5+1 ahead of next week’s deadline for a final agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Iranian minister left Tehran for Vienna early Saturday to attend the last round of nuclear negotiations before a self-imposed June 30 deadline.
Zarif is expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived in Vienna late Friday.
Iranian diplomatic sources close to the negotiations said earlier that Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would also join the talks on Saturday and Sunday.
However, there is no word yet on whether Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese opposite number Wang Yi will also be present for the talks.
In a latest post on his Twitter account on Friday, the Iranian foreign minister reaffirmed that Tehran seeks a fair deal with P5+1, saying he will be going to Vienna “to secure a fair and lasting deal.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — plus Germany – are holding talks to finalize the text of a possible deal over Tehran’s nuclear program. The two sides reached a mutual understanding on the key parameters of the potential deal in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.
A senior Iranian negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, said on Friday that the nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1 are progressing “hard and slowly.”
Araghchi, who is also Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, added that no figures and percentages can be provided at this time about the completion of the text of the possible deal.
“As you know, there is a main text, and there are several annexes; work on each of these [texts] has proceeded with different percentages,” he said, explaining, though, that there has been more progress on the main text.
The Vienna talks come as Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday once again reaffirmed Iran’s key “red lines” for the final agreement with P5+1.
“All Iranian authorities, while insisting on [the country’s] red lines, are pursuing a good deal [with P5+1], which is a fair and honorable agreement in line with Iran’s interests,” the Leader said.
The Leader emphasized that Iran will not accept long-term restrictions on its civilian nuclear program, and will continue research and development in the field of nuclear technology.
Ayatollah Khamenei also said that all economic, monetary and banking sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and the United States against Iran must be immediately lifted on the day the possible deal is signed.