Senior teams of negotiators from Iran and the EU started a second meeting Wednesday afternoon to end their decade-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program through a comprehensive deal.
The afternoon talks started at 16:30 local time. Unlike the morning session which was held at the UN offices in Vienna, the afternoon session is underway at Hotel Cobourg and is just attended by the Iranian team of negotiators headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and her aides.
The two teams are due to start drafting a comprehensive deal to end years of differences between Tehran and the West over the former’s nuclear program.
The negotiating team from Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) ended their first session in Vienna this morning. The talks that started in the Austrian capital at 10:00am (local time), and ended after almost half an hour was an introduction to the main negotiations.
Following the morning session, Michael Mann, the spokesman of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, wrote on his Twitter page that the seven delegations had “useful discussion”.
“Now internal consultations (among the G5+1 members) will take place. (The Iran-six powers) talks will resume this afternoon,” he added.
After Mann’s comments, the delegations of the six world powers held a meeting with Ashton, who presides the Group 5+1 negotiators in the talks with Iran.
The Iranian team of negotiators, accompanied by a team of legal advisors and experts, arrived in Vienna on Tuesday.
Upon arrival at Vienna airport on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister and head of the country’s delegation in talks with the world powers Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would participate in the talks with firm determination.
“We have come here with a decisive will” and seek to defend the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights, Zarif said.
Noting that Iran and the G5+1 are scheduled to hold three other rounds of talks by July 20, he said none of the seven delegations have prepared any draft agreement, although they have certain issues in mind.
Zarif and Ashton held a working dinner in Vienna on Tuesday night to confer on the latest developments in the talks between Tehran and the Group 5+1.
Also, a senior member of Iran’s negotiating team in talks with the six major world powers underlined that Tehran is resolved to do its best to remove possible barriers in the way of concluding a permanent deal with the Sextet, and urged the opposite side to do the same.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for legal and international affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi told reporters in Vienna late Tuesday evening that Iran is fully prepared to achieve an agreement before the deadline.
He went on to say that we are very hopeful and so is the other side that an agreement can be reached before July 20, if there is goodwill and real political determination.
Araqchi added that there would be three additional rounds of negotiations besides the current one to make headway towards a permanent nuclear deal.
Two rounds of talks would be held in June while the third round could be stretched as long as 20 days in July, if there is a need for it, the Iranian official said.
He stressed negotiations were at the most sensitive stage, saying the start of drafting a final accord was the most difficult and complicated phase.
Araqchi acknowledged some of the issues were really difficult and there remained some big gaps.
Bridging the gaps is very difficult but not hopeless, he said.
The last round of negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 took place in Vienna on April 8 and 9.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry in a statement on April 8 reiterated that its team of negotiators would not discuss any topic but the country’s nuclear standoff with the West in its talks with the six world powers.
The talks between Tehran and the G5+1 are part of efforts to seal a final deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran and the Group 5+1 representatives had several sessions of talks in Vienna on March 18-19 too. Following the breakthrough interim agreement between Iran and the six powers, the two sides accepted to send their senior negotiating teams to monthly meetings to discuss a final and comprehensive deal until July. If the seven nations fail to agree on a final deal by then, the Geneva interim agreement will be extended for another 6 months.
On November 24, Iran and the Group 5+1 sealed a six-month Joint Plan of Action to lay the groundwork for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old dispute with Iran over the latter’s nuclear energy program.
In exchange for Tehran’s confidence-building bid to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, the sextet of the world powers agreed to lift some of the existing sanctions against Tehran and impose no nuclear-related sanctions on Iran during the six-month period.