Iranian FM, EU foreign policy chief End Meeting in Vienna

Photo: Iranian FM, EU foreign policy chief End Meeting in Vienna / Iran

Iranian foreign minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton ended their closed-door meeting in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on May 15.

The meeting between the two officials, which lasted for around three and a half hours, was held over the topics and framework of a comprehensive deal between Iran and the world powers over the former's nuclear program, Iran's Fars news agency reported on May 15.

The two top diplomats met behind closed doors at Hotel Cobourg in Vienna and even without the presence of their negotiating teams.

There are yet no reports of the results of the talks between the Iranian and EU top officials.

Last night experts teams from Iran and the six world powers discussed the technical aspects of a final agreement.

Zarif and Ashton had a bilateral meeting in Vienna from 16:30 to 18:30 Wednesday afternoon. Zarif was accompanied by a number of his deputies and a team of legal advisors and experts, while Ashton was accompanied by her deputy Helga Schmidt, her senior aide Stephen Clement and a number of other aides.

The two teams were due to resume their bilateral talks at 21:00 local time, but they postponed the second bilateral meeting after 90-minute talks between Iranian and world powers' experts. The experts meeting had started minutes after the Zarif-Ashton meeting and focused on technical aspects of a final agreement.

The talks between Tehran and the P5+1 are part of efforts to seal a final deal on Iran's nuclear energy program.

The negotiations started with an inaugural meeting among all the seven delegations at the UN office in Vienna on May 14. During the morning talks, the negotiating teams of Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) raised general views about the needed framework for the final agreement and the way it should be compiled.

According to diplomatic sources, the Wednesday afternoon session between the Iranian and EU teams at Hotel Cobourg focused on the framework and topics to be touched in the accord.

On November 24, Iran and the P5+1 sealed a six-month Joint Plan of Action to lay the groundwork for the full resolution of the Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Under the six-month interim deal 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.

Following the breakthrough interim agreement, Iran and the sextet accepted to send their senior negotiating teams to monthly meetings to discuss a final and comprehensive deal until July. If the seven nations fail to agree on a final deal by then, the Geneva interim agreement will be extended for another 6 months.

Since the November agreement, the seven delegations have met several times, including the last round in Vienna on April 8 and 9.

The present round of the talks is the first Iran-powers meeting focused on drafting a final deal.

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