Kerry, Zarif to meet in Geneva as nuke talks ramp up
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Kerry, Zarif to meet in Geneva as nuke talks ramp up

US secretary of state and Iranian counterpart to hold two days of negotiations on elusive bomb-blocking deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry (right), speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as they walk in Geneva, Switzerland, ahead of nuclear discussions, January 14, 2015. (AP/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron, File)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (right), speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as they walk in Geneva, Switzerland, ahead of nuclear discussions, January 14, 2015. (AP/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron, File)

TEHRAN — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and top US diplomat John Kerry are to meet in Geneva this week for talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, an Iranian official said Thursday.

Iran and world powers are trying to strike a deal that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, a goal it denies having, in return for an easing of punishing economic sanctions.

Zarif and Kerry will hold two days of discussions from Sunday after their diplomats begin bilateral talks on Friday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said.

“After four days of bilateral discussions between the Iranian and US nuclear delegations, they could continue with the participation of all members of the P5+1,” Araghchi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

He was referring to Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, which are seeking to thrash out a complex deal with Iran.

Washington said this week that the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid would also join the US-Iranian talks.

Two deadlines for a permanent agreement have been missed since a November 2013 interim deal.

Negotiators are now working toward reaching a political framework by March 31, with the final technical details to be laid out in a comprehensive accord by June 30.

Zarif has met multiple times with Kerry, most recently in Munich earlier this month on the sidelines of a global security conference.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

A key stumbling block to reaching a deal is the number of enriched-uranium producing centrifuges that Iran would keep spinning. The centrifuges and the uranium they produce are seen as a significant part of the process towards building an atomic bomb.

Time of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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