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US-Iran Diplomacy

News, updates, and analysis on the ongoing negotiations between the US other world powers on Iran's nuclear program and other international issues.

US-Iran Diplomacy
  • Iran should continue talks with world powers to end a long-running nuclear dispute, but without ceding any of the gains made by its nuclear programme, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader was reported as saying on Wednesday.

    Iran's negotiators should not yield to issues "forced upon them", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks to nuclear scientists in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

    He added that Washington knew well that the Islamic Republic was not seeking a nuclear weapon.

  • Continuing to make strong statements regarding ongoing international nuclear negotiations, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei says none of Tehran's nuclear gains are to be ceded, Reuters reports, citing IRNA.
  • According to IRNA, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei says the Iran nuclear negotiators must not yield to any issues 'forced upon them,' Reuters reports.

    Khamenei says agreed to nuclear talks to break the hostile clime created by 'arrogant powers,' Reuters reports, citing IRNA. According to IRNA, Iran's supreme leader went on to to say the nuclear talks should continue, Reuters reports.

    According to IRNA, Khamenei says the United States knows well that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon, Reuters reports.

  • The negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5-plus-one - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - plan after their two days of talks in Vienna to start drafting the agreement to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline.

    "The Iranians clearly have a sense of urgency to get a deal done, as does the P5+1," a Western diplomat close to the talks told Reuters.

    "We know that there are still some significant gaps that remain and know this process will not be easy. But we're all committed to getting it (the draft) done by July 20," he said, in an assessment echoed by other Western diplomats.

    The toughest areas to be tackled are Iran's future uranium enrichment capacity, nuclear facilities that Western powers believe have little or no civilian value, and future nuclear research work, as well as a schedule of steps to remove the international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

    Background tensions over Russia's involvement in Ukraine and Western threats of further sanctions against Moscow and over the U.S. denial of a visa for Iran's proposed new U.N. envoy in New York have so far not harmed the nuclear talks, diplomats say.

    A senior Iranian official said Tehran was seeking to protect its "red lines" in what he said were "difficult" negotiations.

    "Iran wants a deal in which its rights have been considered," the official said. "The talks have entered a very difficult stage. Making progress is difficult."


    The six powers' goal is to extend the "breakout" period Iran would need to develop an atomic weapon as much as possible. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday the current Western view of that period is two months.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly said that the oil-producing OPEC member's "red lines" are that it will never give up enrichment or shut any nuclear facility.

    Among the toughest issues are Iran's centrifuge research and development program, the size of its uranium stockpiles, the future of the Arak research reactor that could eventually yield significant quantities of bomb-grade plutonium, and the future of the previously hidden Fordow underground enrichment plant.

    The stakes are high. Western powers, along with Russia and China, want to avert an escalation of tensions in the Middle East in the form of a new war or a regional nuclear arms race.

    Iran, which denies accusations it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, wants an end to sanctions and to regain what it sees as its rightful place as a leading regional power.

    The current Vienna talks are building on a preliminary deal that Iran and the six powers reached in Geneva last November.

  • The White House said on Tuesday that U.S. officials have told Tehran that its new choice for U.N. ambassador, Hamid Abutalebi, is "not viable," the day after the U.S. Senate passed legislation to bar Abutalebi from entering the United States.

    "We've informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, declining to elaborate on whether that would mean that Abutalebi would be barred from the country.

    Some members of the U.S. Congress have expressed outrage at the choice of the veteran Iranian diplomat, who they accuse of playing a role in the 1979-81 hostage crisis in Iran when U.S. embassy workers were held for 444 days.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary Kerry has concluded.
  • Sen. Menendez is ending the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary Kerry by saying committee members hold their positions from principled bases, despite the fact that they might agree.

    Even though there are very passionate views here, we have a wide breadth of bipartisanship in the committee on the issues of the day, he said.
  • Third plenary session of E3/EU+3 - Iran talks ends. Discussions were detailed and substantial. Bilateral meetings now. #irantalksvienna
  • Iran, world powers seek to narrow gaps in new round of nuclear talks

    Iran and six world powers began a new round of talks in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at settling the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program by late July, despite wide differences over how to attain that goal.

    The other six countries – the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment activity so it will remain unable to quickly produce an atomic bomb, if it ever decided to try. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and wants sanctions lifted.

    Chief negotiators from Iran and the six powers started the two-day meeting at the U.N. complex in Vienna, where they have held two previous such sessions since February.

    "We are involved in very detailed and substantial negotiations, and we are trying as hard as we can to drive the process forward," Michael Mann, a spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters.

    Both sides say they want to start drafting a comprehensive agreement in May, about two months before a July 20 deadline for finalizing the accord. Western officials say, however, that the parties are still far apart on key issues.

    "What matters most to us is that there is a good agreement. Clearly we want to make progress as fast as possible but the most important thing is the quality of the agreement," Mann said.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • Sen. Risch is now starting on Iran, saying he has a constituent in prison.

    'John, you've got to do something about this,' he said, telling Kerry he needs to tell the Iranians he won't negotiate until American prisoners are released.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday the current view of the Iran "breakout" period for developing nuclear weapons capability is two months.

    "I think it's public knowledge today that we're operating with a time period for a so-called breakout of about two months. That's been in the public domain," Kerry testified at a Senate hearing.

    Iran's breakout time is defined as how long it would take it to produce fissile material for one weapon.

    Kerry made his comment in response to a question about whether negotiators over Iran's nuclear program were aiming for a 6- to 12-month "breakout" period, which Kerry declined to confirm as talks are continuing.

  • Kerry defends US working w/#Iran : Reagan dealt with Gorbachev. Nixon dealt with Mao. It's a reality of the world.
  • At the end of this, Kerry said they hope to be able to come to Congress with the most exhaustive agreement to be able to know what Iran is doing.

    If Iran makes the decision to break out, sanctions aren't going to be what makes the difference, Kerry said.
  • Does the administration, if it strikes a deal, believe it needs to come back to the Congress for approval of such a deal? Menendez asked.

    Kerry said he wasn't expressing optimism on one side or the other, but rather remains 'agnostic.'

    The team on the ground in Vienna at the current round of Iranian nuclear talks is having expert, detailed talks about whether Iran's program remains a peaceful one. He added that the current view of Iran's 'breakout' period for developing its nuclear weapon capability is two months.

    We have amazing capacity that is being built into this system to understand what they're doing, Kerry said, adding that the U.S. is now able to inspect Iranian facilities it has never been allowed into before.
  • I don't think we did everything that we've done to get only a six- or twelve-month lead time, Sen. Menendez said during Secretary of State John Kerry's testimony Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Menendez did not seem impressed with current negotiations with Iran, including an easing of sanctions and any possible of uranium enrichment facility needs.

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smile at the start of talks in Vienna on April 8, 2014 (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters)  

  • Iran and six world powers began a new round of talks on Tuesday aimed at settling the dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme by late July, despite wide differences on how to attain that goal.

    The powers want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment activity to deny it any capability to quickly produce an atomic bomb, if it decided on such a course. Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and wants them to lift sanctions.

    Chief negotiators from Iran, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia started a two-day meeting around 9:45 a.m. at the U.N. complex in Vienna, where they have held two previous such sessions since February.

    "We are involved in very detailed and substantial negotiations and we are trying as hard as we can to drive the process forward," the spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates the discussions on behalf of the powers, told reporters.

    Both sides say they want to start drafting a comprehensive agreement in May, some two months before a July 20 deadline for finalising the accord. Western official say, however, that the parties are still far apart on key issues.

    "What matters most to us is that there is a good agreement. Clearly we want to make progress as fast as possible but the most important thing is the quality of the agreement," Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, said.

    "It has to be a good agreement that everyone is happy with. So we will work as hard was we can to achieve that."

    Iranian and U.S. negotiators are wary that any deal will face criticism from conservative hardliners at home wedded to confrontation since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    The six nations have agreed internally to have a draft text of an accord by the end of May or early June, one diplomat from the powers said, adding however: "We're still in an exploratory phase ... In the end, things will happen in July."

    Tuesday's opening session was chaired by Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but their deputies later took over.


    The Islamic Republic says its enrichment programme is a peaceful bid to generate electricity and has ruled out shutting any of its nuclear facilities.

    The United States and some other Western countries have accused it of working on developing a nuclear bomb capability. Israel has threatened to attack its long-time foe Iran if diplomatic efforts fail. Iran says it is Israel's assumed atomic arsenal that threatens peace and stability in the Middle East.

    The diplomat said issues to be discussed at the April 8-9 meeting included how the United Nations nuclear watchdog would verify whether Iran was meeting its end of any deal, suspected past atomic bomb research by Tehran, and how to deal with U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran adopted since 2006.

    A senior Iranian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, said major issues discussed in previous meetings - Iran's level of uranium enrichment and a heavy-water nuclear reactor project at Arak - would also be debated.

    Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, Iran's stated purpose, but can also provide material for a bomb, which the West suspects may be Tehran's ultimate aim. The Arak reactor, once operational, can yield plutonium - another weapons-usable fissile material - but Iran says it only intends to use it for medical and agricultural research ends.

    The goal of the negotiations begun almost two months ago is to hammer out a long-term deal to define the permissible scope of Iran's nuclear programme in return for an end to sanctions that have hobbled the OPEC country's economy.

    In November, the two sides agreed an interim accord curbing some Iranian enrichment activities in exchange for some easing of sanctions. This six-month deal, which took effect on January 20, was designed to buy time for talks on a final accord.

    The talks can be extended by another half-year if both sides agree to do so, and negotiate the content of an extension deal.

  • Here in Vienna again for 3rd round of #viennatalks for a comrehesive solution to #Iran 's nuclear ambitions. US dips very optimistic.
  • According to the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Sherman will travel to Vienna on April 6 to lead the U.S. delegation at the latest round of Iran nuclear talks. 

    From the department:

    Under Secretary Sherman will travel on April 6 to Vienna to lead the U.S. delegation to the EU coordinated P5+1 talks with Iran. This will be the third meeting of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, coordinated by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton) Political Directors and Iran since the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action. The talks will focus on continuing to move forward towards a comprehensive solution with Iran on its nuclear program.

  • Iran said on Saturday it had useful expert-level nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna, addressing all major technical issues in the way of a final settlement.

    "The meetings were useful, raised mutual insight into our differing positions," Iranian negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad told the official IRNA news agency at the end of the three-day talks in Vienna. "Everyone came well-prepared ... addressing issues in minute technical details can facilitate hard political decisions."

    He said the results would be submitted on Monday to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Who acts on behalf of the six world powers - the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain.

    Ashton and Zarif are to hold their third round of high-level nuclear talks on April 8-9 in the Austrian capital, part of efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement by late July. It seeks to limit Iran's controversial uranium enrichment activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

    Top Iranian nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, was quoted as saying by IRNA that "all technical issues needing deeper experts' studies, including the heavy-water Arak reactor, are being addressed at the latest round of talks.

    "Talks will continue on enrichment and other (sensitive) issues until final settlement," he added.

    Western officials say however wide differences remain between the two sides.

  • With respect to the Iran talks, we recently concluded the talks and saw no change in the posture of the P5+1 so to do 'things have continued apace,' a senior administration official said Thursday on a call with reporters on how sanctions may change international relations.

    Russia is invested in relations with Iran because of their own interests, 'it's not a favor to us'
  • According to monthly IAEA data, Iran continues to implement the six-month deal with world powers, Reuters reports.
  • US Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman: no indication Russia shifting on Iran. Worked with Ryabkov before he said that & he was focused as ever
  • Secretary of State John Kerry has also released a message to the Iranian people: 

    I'm privileged to join President Obama in wishing the people of Iran and all those who celebrate around the world -- from East Asia to the Persian Gulf region -- a happy, healthy, and prosperous Nowruz.

    All who celebrate Nowruz remember that it is not just an ancient tradition dating back over 3,000 years, but a time of renewal and hope. This season we reflect on the shared humanity that binds us together.

    My own family is stronger today because of the presence and love of Iranian-Americans, and I am proud of the family ties that we Americans have to Iran and its people. Here in America, we value the significant contributions that Iranian-Americans continue to make, whether it's in science, medicine, engineering, business, art, or so many other ways.

    On this Nowruz, we reaffirm our belief that strengthening cultural and academic ties between our two countries benefits our two peoples. Today, I am pleased to note that the Treasury Department will issue a new General License that will enhance educational ties between Iran and the United States through exchanges and the provision of new opportunities for Iranians to study in our country.

    It's not lost on any of us that the United States and Iran have endured harsh winters in our past, but gathering to welcome Spring and the New Year with friends and family is an opportunity to look forward to what can lie ahead with hard work and commitment. And it is our hope that the people of Iran will be able to fulfill their aspirations in their own society in the coming year.

    So as you gather with your loved ones around the Haft Seen Sofreh, the United States wishes you a joyous New Year filled with the hope for a better tomorrow.

    Nowruzetan Pirooz!

  • Kerry's #Nowruz msg announces eased restrictions on academic exchange w/#Iran . 'This season we reflect on the shared humanity that binds us'
  • President Obama has released a statement directly to the Iranian people about the possibility of reaching a nuclear deal with Tehran:

    Dorood.  As you and your families gather around the Nowruz table, I want to extend my best wishes on this new spring and new year.  As always, this holiday is a chance to give gratitude for your blessings and to reflect on our hopes for the year ahead.


    As I have every year as President, I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Since taking office, I’ve offered the Iranian government an opportunity—if it meets its international obligations, then there could be a new relationship between our two countries, and Iran could begin to return to its rightful place among the community of nations.


    Last year, you—the Iranian people—made your voice heard when you elected Dr. Hassan Rouhani as your new president.  During his campaign, he pledged to strengthen Iran’s economy, improve the lives of the Iranian people and engage constructively with the international community—and he was elected with your strong support. 


    Last fall, I spoke with President Rouhani.  It was the first conversation between an American president and an Iranian leader since 1979.  I conveyed to President Rouhani my deep respect for the Iranian people, just as he expressed his respect for the American people.  And I told him that I firmly believe that we can address the serious disagreements between our governments, reduce distrust and begin to move beyond our difficult history. 


    Since then, we’ve made progress.  For years, the international community has had concerns that Iran’s nuclear program could lead to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, which would be a threat to the region and to the world.  Under the initial agreement we reached in November, the Iranian government has agreed to limit key parts of its nuclear program.  Along with our international partners, the United States is giving Iran some relief from sanctions.  Now we’re engaged in intensive negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with the Iranian nuclear program. 


    As I’ve said before, I’m under no illusions.  This will be difficult.  But I’m committed to diplomacy because I believe there is the basis for a practical solution.  Iran’s highest officials, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, have said that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.  So there is a chance to reach an agreement if Iran takes meaningful and verifiable steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.  Iran would have access to peaceful nuclear energy.  And we will have addressed—peacefully, with diplomacy—one of the greatest challenges to international peace and security. 


    A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue—and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad—would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek.  After all, throughout your history the talents and genius of the Iranian people have led to great achievements in literature and the arts, science and technology.  But the economic hardship that so many Iranians have endured in recent years—because of the choices of Iranian leaders—has deprived your country and the world of the extraordinary skills and contributions you have to offer.  And you deserve better.


    If Iran meets its international obligations, we know where the path of dialogue and greater trust and cooperation can lead.  It will mean more opportunities for Iranians to trade and forge ties with the rest of the world.  It means more economic growth and jobs for Iranians, especially young Iranians who dream of making their mark in the world.  It will mean more opportunities for Iranian students to travel abroad and build new partnerships that help you realize your incredible potential.  In short, real diplomatic progress this year can help open up new possibilities and prosperity for the Iranian people for years to come.       


    That’s the message the Iranian people sent at the ballot box last year.  I hope that the entire Iranian government hears that message too.  Because for the first time in many years, we have the opportunity to start down a new path.  If Iran seizes this moment, this Nowruz could mark not just the beginning of a new year, but a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world—including a better relationship with the United States and the American people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect.


    Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak. 

  • Positions between Iran and world powers diverge widely in some areas but Iranian negotiators seem "very committed" to reach an agreement on the country's disputed nuclear program, a senior EU official said in an email seen by Reuters on Thursday.

    The brief email from Helga Schmid to senior officials of EU member states was written after a meeting between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Schmid is the deputy of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating talks with Iran on behalf of the six nations. The negotiations are aimed at reaching a final settlement to a decade-old stand-off over Iran's atomic activities, which Tehran says are peaceful but the West fears may be aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.

    In this week's meeting, Iran and the powers locked horns over the future of a planned Iranian nuclear reactor that could yield plutonium for bombs, and the United States warned that "hard work" would be needed to overcome differences when the sides reconvene on April 7.

    This line was echoed in Schmid's email.

    "Since we are at an early stage of the final and comprehensive negotiations, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. On some areas, positions differ widely," it said.

    "However, the impression is that the Iranian negotiators remain very committed to reach a comprehensive solution within the agreed 6-month period," Schmid added. She was referring to a late July deadline for a long-term deal agreed in an interim accord struck in November.

    The meeting in Vienna was the second in a series that the six nations hope will produce a verifiable settlement, ensuring Iran's nuclear program is oriented to peaceful purposes only, and lay to rest the risk of a new Middle East war.


    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif characterized the latest round of negotiations as "very successful" in terms of clarifying the issues involved, the Iranian official news agency IRNA reported.

    "In terms of understanding and clarification, Vienna-2 was among our very successful round of talks ... extremely beneficial and constructive," it quoted Zarif as saying.

    The two sides sought to spell out their positions on two of the thorniest issues: the level of uranium enrichment conducted in Iran, and its Arak heavy-water reactor that the West sees as a possible source of plutonium for bombs.

    The next meeting was then set for April 7-9, also in the Austrian capital.

    The over-arching goal is to transcend mutual mistrust and give the West confidence that Iran will not be able to produce atomic bombs while Tehran - in return - would win full relief from economic sanctions hamstringing the OPEC state's economy.

    Iran denies that its declared civilian atomic energy program is a front for developing the means to make nuclear weapons. But its restrictions on U.N. inspections and Western intelligence about bomb-relevant research have raised concerns.

  • According to an email, a senior EU official says sees Iranian negotiators as 'very committed' to reach a nuclear deal within the agreed timeline, Reuters reports.
  • According to IRNA, Iran's foreign minister called the Vienna talks 'very successful' in terms of understanding and clarification, Reuters reports.
  • Analysis: Crimea crisis could reduce sanctions pressure on Iran

    As a short round of nuclear talks wound up Wednesday in Vienna, much of the world media’s focus has remained on the East-West standoff over Crimea. For Iran watchers, that has posed the question of whether the fallout from the Ukraine crisis will affect Russia’s behavior in multilateral negotiations with Iran.

    For now, it appears that the impact on the talks themselves has been negligible. Catherine Ashton, the chief European negotiator, told reporters that the discussions had been “substantive and useful” and that negotiators from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) would meet their Iranian counterparts again in Vienna next month.

    Having achieved an interim accord last November, negotiators have made some progress but remain far from resolving the complex technical issues that make a long-term agreement, in the words of a senior Obama administration official, akin to a “Rubik’s Cube.”

    A more worrisome impact of the Ukraine crisis, however, may be that Russia is tempted to soften its compliance with multilateral sanctions against Iran if the United States and the European Union escalate what so far have been limited measures to punish about two dozen Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians for Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea. This becomes more likely if, as now seems probable, a long-term nuclear accord with Iran has not been achieved by July 20, at which point last year’s interim deal would have to be renewed if negotiations are to continue.

    Russia’s continued status in international affairs despite the collapse of the Soviet Union stems from its vast size, its natural resources — especially gas and oil — its possession of nuclear weapons and the veto power it holds as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Moscow values its role as a member of the P5+1, which has been negotiating with Iran since the latter days of the George W. Bush administration, and opposes Iran becoming another nuclear power in its backyard.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • A senior US official says it will take 'hard work' to overcome differences with Iran over its uranium enrichment program, according to Reuterss
  • Speaking from Vienna, the European Union's Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said world powers and Iran will meet again for more nuclear talks on April 7 through April 9 in Vienna. Both Ashton and Zarif seemed positive during their joint press conference, calling the latest round of meetings productive.

    The joint press conference was quite short and few details were given. However, Ashton did reveal that substantive talks were held on Iran's Arak reaction and uranium enrichment.
  • We have just met for the second round of negotiations for the continuation of diplomatic efforts to reach a comprehensive effort in the way forward, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said at the conclusion of meetings.
  • #EU High Rep #Ashton and Iran FM Zarif chair final plenary session of March E3+3 Iran talks #irantalksvienna

  • Final plenary of second round of #Iran talks has begun in Vienna.

  • Final plenary session of E3+3 Iran talks at UN at 2 o'clock, followed by press statement at 2.30 in Austria Center #irantalksvienna
  • #EU High Rep #Ashton holding bilateral meeting with Iran Foreign Minister Zarif. #irantalksvienna
  • World powers and Iran began the second day of talks in Vienna on Tehran's contested nuclear programme on Wednesday, with Western and Iranian diplomats saying the Ukraine crisis has not complicated their efforts so far.

    The meeting is the second in a series that Western governments - the United States, France, Britain and Germany - as well as China and Russia hope will culminate in a broad settlement of the decade-old dispute that threatens to draw the Middle East into a new war.

    The talks are seeped in mutual mistrust and years of adversity, and tensions between Moscow and Western capitals over Crimea could further strain diplomacy, because Russia has in the past differed with the West in their approaches towards Tehran.

    Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said that the crisis in Ukraine - the worst confrontation between the West and the East since the Cold War - had so far had "no impact" on talks with the six nations.

    "We also prefer the (powers) to have a unified approach for the sake of negotiations," he told reporters late on Tuesday, noting that the first day of talks was "positive and very good".

    A spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who coordinates diplomacy with Iran on behalf of the six, said that the powers were working in a "unified fashion".

    Araqchi also said that the next round of talks were expected to be held in the Austrian capital on April 7-9.

    In the past, Russia has generally enjoyed warmer ties with the Islamic Republic and suggested Western fears about any nuclear weapons designs by Tehran are overblown.

    As in previous meetings, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov represented Russia at the talks, which were expected to end late in the day.

    Iran denies Western suspicions that its nuclear work has any military aim and wants the West to lift crippling economic sanctions as part of the final deal.

    The six powers want Iran to curtail its nuclear programme to a point where they would feel secure it could not produce bombs.

  • Iran's Zarif says he is 'optimistic' the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal with world powers can be reached, Reuters reports.
  • New E3+3 plenary session begins chaired by DSG Schmid and DFM Araghchi: #irantalksvienna
  • While Putin continues to speak in Moscow, the European Union says no impact has been seen from the Crimea tension on nuclear talks in Vienna between world powers and Iran, Reuters reports.
  • First plenary session of E3+3/Iran nuclear talks concluded. New session chaired by Schmid/Araghchi now beginning to drill down into detail
  • first #Photo of Vienna II EUspox: First plenary session of #E3 +3/Iran nuclear talks gets underway, #irantalksvienna

  • Second round of comprehensive nuclear talks with #Iran is underway in Vienna.

  • #EU High Rep #Ashton had constructive meeting this morning with #Iran FM Zarif to prepare today's nuclear talks, #irantalksvienna
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