Iran-US thaw on cards? John Kerry, Javad Zarif to hold nuclear talks

In a historic move that is a first in more than three decades, the US and Iran will engage in direct talks over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme on Thursday in New York.

Updated: Sep 24, 2013, 19:46 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New York: In a historic move that is a first in more than three decades, the US and Iran will engage in direct talks over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme on Thursday in New York.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Muhammad Javad Zarif will come to the negotiating table along with the foreign ministers from UK, France, China, Germany and Russia during the 68th United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Also, a one-to-one meeting between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later today, was not ruled out.

The talks "will give our ministers a sense of their level of seriousness and whether they are coming with concrete new proposals and whether this charm offensive actually has substance to it," a senior US State Department official said.

The US-educated Zarif, whose knowledge of Western culture has endeared him to foreign diplomats, confirmed Thursday`s meeting on his Facebook page.

Zarif said he spoke to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton of Iran`s "political will as well as a conceptual framework to reach a solution that would ensure the Iranian people`s rights and would lift the sanctions."

"It is evident from her post-meeting interview that she took it postively," Zarif commented on the social media site.

The talks would be a major breakthrough in the diplomatic ties between the US and Iran, who have been at loggerheads over the nuclear programme of Tehran, which according to the West is a covert attempt to build nuke bomb.

The historic step taken by US and Iran comes after the newly elected President of Iran - Hassan Rouhani showed conciliatory signals.

Speaking in an interview with US news channel NBC, Rouhani had said that Iran will never pursue the creation of nuclear weapons.

The impact of Rouhani’s conciliatory comments is expected to reflect in the speech that Obama will make today when he is expected to reciprocate the goodwill being exuded by the Iranian leader, given that Tehran agrees to make nuclear concessions and prove to the West that its nukes are for peaceful purposes only.

The signs of a possible thaw between the US and Iran were beginning to surface after he reports of letter exchange between Rouhani and Obama, which was termed positive and constructive by Iranian President.

Speaking about the letter exchange, the White House said in a statement, "In his letter, the President outlined the US willingness to solve the problem by providing an opportunity to demonstrate to Iran that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes".

With Agency Inputs