Baku, Azerbaijan, April 7
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iranian Foreign Minister left Tehran for Vienna on April 7 to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, ahead of a new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, who heads Iranian nuclear negotiation team will meet Ashton at a dinner banquet in Vienna on April 7 before the new round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States - plus Germany, Iranian IRNA news agency reported on April 7.
The two officials will discuss the results of the latest expert-level nuclear talks which were held on April 3 to 5.
Zarif and Ashton also will set the agenda of the upcoming nuclear talks.
Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to start the third round of their talks in Vienna, on April 8, which is part of efforts to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. The negotiations are slated to last until April 9.
The third round of nuclear talks is inclusive of entire remaining issues which are to be addressed in final agreement. The issues include Iran's access to peaceful nuclear technology, trade markets and bank resources as well as nuclear facilities inspection mechanisms.
It should be noted that Iran's negotiating team, has added legal advisors, among which is the former deputy foreign minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia.
The negotiating team also includes deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takh-e-Ravanchi, foreign ministry's director general for political and International Affairs Hamid Ba'eedinejad, director general for Defensive Affairs at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Amiri.
Under a six-month interim deal between Iran and the P5+1 which took effect on Jan. 20, the six major powers agreed to give Iran access to its $4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if the country fulfills the deal's terms which offer sanctions relief in exchange for steps on curbing the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran and P5+1 intend to continue their talks to reach a final comprehensive agreement on the issue. The two sides have held two rounds of political level talks as well as three rounds of expert level negotiations so far.
A senior U.S. official said on April 4 that the drafting of a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program will begin in May, the Washington Post reported.
The official also said that significant gaps remain between P5+1 and Iran over its nuclear program, but talks that began early this year are "getting down to the serious business."
The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies. The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons, using nuclear energy for medical research instead.