John Kerry meets with Iranian foreign minister

Last Updated: Sunday, February 2, 2014 - 17:34

Munich: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday met with Iran`s foreign minister on the sidelines of a security conference in Germany, pressing Iran to abide by the commitments it has already made ahead of new negotiations on Tehran`s nuclear programme.

Kerry`s meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif comes after Iran agreed with world powers November 24 to halt its most sensitive uranium enrichment activities in return for an easing of Western sanctions.

Implemented January 20, the agreement will be in effect for six months while further negotiations are held aimed at reaching a permanent agreement eliminating concerns that Tehran might use its nuclear programme to build nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies such aims but says it is ready to reach a deal in exchange for full sanctions relief.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union`s foreign policy chief, said Friday after meeting with Zarif that Iran had agreed to a new round of negotiations on February 18 in Vienna with a six-nation group the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

In his one-on-one meeting today on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Kerry reiterated to Zarif the importance of both sides negotiating in good faith, and of Iran abiding by its commitments, according to the State Department.

Kerry also made clear that the United States will continue to enforce remaining sanctions, it said.

Zarif was scheduled to address the conference later in the day. Under the six-month deal, Iran has agreed to halt its 20 per cent enrichment programme, which produces uranium just steps away from military grade, but will continue enrichment up to 5 per cent.

It also will convert half of its stockpile of 20 per cent enriched uranium to oxide, and dilute the remaining half to 5 per cent.
In return, the US and the EU simultaneously announced the lifting of sanctions on petrochemical products, insurance, gold and other precious metals, passenger plane parts and services.
They also plan to release USD 4.2 billion in Iranian assets of oil revenues blocked overseas, in eight installments over six months.

First Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014 - 17:34
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