Kerry Remains In Vienna At Nuclear Talks
November 21, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is still in Vienna despite earlier word from his spokesperson that he would be leaving the Iran nuclear negotiations to return to Paris for consultations with 'European counterparts.'
U.S. officials tell Western media privately that Kerry has scheduled a meeting for later on November 21 in Vienna with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's chief negotiator, Catherine Ashton.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA said Kerry has made new proposals to the Iranians meant to bridge differences standing in the way of a deal.
Foreign ministers from Western powers earlier said they were leaving Vienna on November 21 for consultations as a commonly agreed November 24 deadline for an agreement to end 12 years of confrontation over Iran's nuclear program approached with prospects for a deal still in doubt.
Earlier reports had also indicated Iran's Zarif would leave and return to Tehran. However, Iranian sources and media later said he would stay in the Austrian capital.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said earlier in the day that a 'very significant gap' remained between Iran and six countries seeking a deal to eliminate concerns Tehran could build a nuclear weapon and give the Islamic nation relief from UN and Western sanctions in return.
Russia -- the closest thing Iran has to an ally in the six-nation group that also includes the United States, Britain, France, China, and Germany -- said all the elements of an agreement were on the table and called for compromise.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kerry agreed in a telephone conversation that 'additional efforts' were needed to reach a deal by November 24.
The statement said the two "did not rule out the possibility of holding a ministerial meeting of the parties to the talks on Iran's nuclear program, if the prospect for progress appears.'
The Vienna talks got under way late on November 20 with a meeting between Kerry and Zarif along with Ashton.
Iran and the six powers forged an interim agreement a year ago and are now trying to clinch a comprehensive deal.
A major sticking point has been over Iran's refusal to substantially cut the output of centrifuges that can enrich uranium levels high enough to be used for nuclear weapons.
Western powers suspect that Iran has aimed to covertly acquire nuclear bomb capability from its enrichment of uranium, while Iran says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful aims including power generation.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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