Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met a senior EU official in
Geneva to iron out remaining practical details of the November 24
accord under which Iran agreed to curb its most sensitive nuclear
work in return for some sanctions relief.
After the meeting, he told Reuters that the sides had found
"solutions for every difference" but more consultations were needed
before an agreement could be announced.
"Now we are taking the solutions ... home, all of us. Hopefully
tomorrow we can either confirm or not, but hopefully confirm," he
The European Union liaises with Iran on behalf of six world powers —
the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — in
diplomatic efforts related to Tehran's nuclear work.
A spokesman for the EU, Michael Mann, said "very good" progress was
made "on all the pertinent issues", but he added that results of the
talks still had to be validated by more senior officials.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news
briefing that the technical talks were making good progress but
reports that a deal had been finalized were inaccurate.
"There have been a few outstanding issues, but at this point, the
reports that everything has been finalized are incorrect," she said.
The seven countries need to agree when the nuclear accord goes into
effect, meaning when the European Union and the United States ease
economic sanctions in return for Iranian nuclear concessions, and
how they will verify that Iran is meeting its end of the bargain.
During years of on-and-off diplomacy, Iran has rejected western
allegations its work has military goals, saying it needs nuclear
power for energy generation and medical purposes.
In a series of implementation talks between nuclear experts and
sanctions specialists from the seven countries and the EU, held
since November 24, several issues linked to the accord have
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There appear to be disagreements over the sequence of how the sides
implement the deal, and how much prior notice of Iran fulfilling its
obligations should be given to western governments before they ease
The talks have also run into problems over advanced centrifuge
research, highlighting the huge challenges facing Iran and the six
powers in negotiating the precise terms of the interim agreement.
Diplomats have said the sides aim to start implementing the
agreement on January 20, to allow EU foreign ministers, scheduled to
meet that day, to approve the suspension of EU sanctions covered by
the deal. Preparations for that to take place were under way in
Brussels, officials said.
The agreement is designed to last six months and the six powers hope
to use the time to negotiate a final, broad settlement over Iran's
Underscoring skepticism about future diplomacy, one western diplomat
said progress towards implementation of the November deal was a good
sign, but difficulties remained in agreeing a broad accord to settle
the decade-old dispute.
"It is welcome but we can't lose sight of fact that it only really
represents a cooling-off period," he said.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Justyna Pawlak; additional reporting
by Adrian Croft in Brussels, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna and Arshad
Mohammed in Washington; editing by Andrew Roche)
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