Fresh round of nuclear talks with Iran next week: US

A new round of negotiations between global powers and Iran over Tehran's contentious nuclear programme will take place next week in Switzerland, the US said on Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart held marathon talks to resolve outstanding issues.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 23, 2015, 22:29 PM IST

Geneva: A new round of negotiations between global powers and Iran over Tehran's contentious nuclear programme will take place next week in Switzerland, the US said on Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart held marathon talks to resolve outstanding issues.

The meeting will take place on March 2 at the level of political directors, a senior US official said following two- day talks between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Kerry, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, senior director at the National Security Council, Rob Malley, Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz and their Iranian counterparts, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's brother, Hossein Fereydoun, along with their nuclear experts discussed the technical details for the outline of an agreement which the parties are scrambling to reach by the March 31 deadline.

"All parties are negotiating with seriousness and determination, but we haven't found solutions to key questions," Abbas Araghchi, the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator had told Iranian state television yesterday.

The high-level delegation talks have resumed on "virtually every topic".

The US-Iran talks will involve an initial freezing of the Islamic republic's nuclear programme but would slowly allow the enrichment of its uranium programme.

The restrictions on the enrichment programme could be anywhere from a decade, as Iran wants, or up to 20 years, as the US wants. The easing of sanctions from the West would be staggered over time.

Iran at present has several trade and petroleum sanctions which is squeezing its economy.

Meanwhile a separate meeting of the P5+1 nations ?- China, Russia, the UK, the US, France and Germany -- with the Islamic republic ended on a positive note.

The Barack Obama administration has outlined two deadlines from the Iran nuclear deal which the P5+1 are trying to broker -- March 31 for an outline of the agreement and the end of June for the entire accord including the technical annexes.

Having missed two deadlines to reach an agreement both sides have said they are not interested in an extension of the deadline if the present round of talks fail.

The P5+1 are trying to broker a deal with Iran to end an over decade-long standoff over its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.

Iran, however, has maintained that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.