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Iran nuclear talks `remain difficult`: William Hague

AFP | Last Updated: Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 18:05

Geneva: Negotiations between world powers and Iran over the Islamic republic`s controversial nuclear programme "remain difficult" and any deal must be worthwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday.

"They remain very difficult negotiations. I think it is important to stress that we are not here because things are necessarily finished," Hague told reporters as he arrived in Geneva.

"We are here because they are difficult and they remain difficult," he added.

In a repeat of their flurry of activity at an earlier round of talks two weeks ago, Hague and his counterparts from the United States, Russia, Germany, France and China rushed to Geneva yesterday and today to join talks between the European Union`s top diplomat Catherine Ashton and Iran`s Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iran is seeking relief from the international sanctions that have crippled its economy, while world powers want Tehran to prove that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful and not a drive to acquire atomic weapons.

"There are narrow gaps, but they are important gaps. And it is very important that any agreement is thorough, that it is detailed and that it is comprehensive and that it is a deal in which the whole world can have confidence that it will work and that it will be observed," said Hague.

Details of the negotiations officially have been kept under wraps since an ice-breaking round of talks in Geneva in October where Iran put an offer on the table -- and which ministers and their expert teams pored over at the session earlier this month.

Hague said the remaining stumbling blocks were "the same areas of difficulty that we had two weeks ago."

"That means there are many areas of agreement," he underlined.

"It remains the case that a huge amount of progress has been made in recent weeks. The state of this negotiation is entirely different than a few months ago," he said.

"That`s positive, but some of the difficult areas are very difficult."

Negotiators have been working to overcome years of mistrust between Tehran and the international community.

"It`s understandable that we will have concerns. We have to remember that the whole history, much of the recent history in recent years in Iran`s nuclear programme is of concealment and is of defiance of international agreements and resolutions," said Hague.

"That is why it is important that any agreement is thorough, detailed and comprehensive and covers all aspects of Iran`s nuclear programme."

"We will only make a deal, the six countries involved, we will only make an agreement if we think it is a truly worthwhile agreement and really does address the problems caused by Iran`s nuclear programme," he insisted.

First Published: Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 18:05

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