GENEVA: Following a day of exhausting bilateral meetings between Iranian and Russian FMs and the EUs chief diplomat, top ministers from other P5+1 powers have arrived in Geneva to add extra political weight and join the talks ahead of a much-anticipated deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was the first to arrive in Geneva on Friday evening. Lavrov held bilateral meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. Details of the meetings were not disclosed. On Saturday the Russian Foreign Minister met US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as French and Chinese foreign ministers.
Lavrov specifically stressed that for the first time in many years the six world powers and Iran have a real opportunity to reach agreement, the Russian foreign ministry said in statement Saturday.
Russias deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov blamed the western media for presenting rather one-legged comments on the talks and trying to blame the Iranian delegation for the lack of a break through.
He also called for a media blackout during the negotiations.
Any negotiations, especially on such a sensitive issue as settlement of the Iranian nuclear program, require silence from the media, Ryabkov said Saturday.
The EUs delegation sounds cautiously optimistic. You cannot suddenly get an agreement overnight So I do not think that anyone should panic, Ashtons spokesman, Michael Mann, said in an interview with Irans Press TV. We are prepared to do hard work to bridge those differences. It will take as long as it takes.
Britains Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke of very difficult negotiations, saying narrow gaps remain on the same issues that blocked agreement at the last round earlier this month.
Were not here because things are necessarily finished, Hague told reporters. Were here because theyre difficult, and they remain difficult.
Details were not released but it appeared the two sides were trying to reconcile Irans insistence that it has a right to enrich for peaceful purposes while assuaging fears that Tehran was secretly trying to build a bomb, a charge the Iranians deny.
As the talks entered an intensive phase, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the negotiations had reached the final moment, according to Chinas Xinhua news agency.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reiterated Saturday the Iranian position that Tehran must maintain the right to enrich uranium.
Were discussing a three-part agreement. I can assure you that Irans right to enrichment will be included in any deal, he said.
But he also struck a more upbeat note saying that The arrival of foreign ministers of six countries in Geneva proves the governments readiness to reach agreement with Tehran.
On Wednesday, Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said his country would never compromise on red lines. Since then, Tehran has publicly reiterated its stance that the six powers must recognise uranium enrichment as Irans right, despite strong opposition by Israel and within the U.S. Congress and some Gulf Arab states. Agencies
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