Technical experts from Iran and six world powers will meet Wednesday in Vienna to discuss their positions ahead of the next round of nuclear talks in mid-June, an Iranian official said Monday.
The talks will take place over two days alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors quarterly meeting, Hamid Baeidinejad, director general for political and international security affairs at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said.
Baeidinejad will head up the Iranian team, while P5+1 negotiators will be led by Stephen Clement, an aide to European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.
Hopes for meeting the target date of July 20 for a final nuclear deal have dimmed after major disagreements at the negotiating round last month prevented the two sides from starting to draft a pact.
The prospects took another blow Monday when IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told reporters he doesn’t believe either side expects his agency to conclude its probe in time — raising new doubts about the deadline. He could not say if the investigation would finish by year’s end.
The International Atomic Energy Agency investigation is formally separate from six-power talks with Iran that are meant to build on a first-step accord struck late last year and focus on substantially trimming Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for full sanctions relief.
The US and its western allies at the negotiating table insist that Iran and the IAEA must wrap up the investigation as part of the overall nuclear agreement that Iran and the powers want to finalize by July 20.
The talks can be extended by mutual agreement, but the US and Iranian governments are under huge domestic pressure to show progress — from both Iranian hardliners and US congressional critics.
AP contributed to this report.