German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday that Iran was taking nuclear talks seriously in order to reach a permanent settlement on its nuclear program., Anadolu Agency reported.
His remarks came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif were meeting in the Swiss town of Montreux in an effort to meet a March 31 deadline to come up with a political framework agreement following months-long negotiations.
Iran and "the P5+1 group" - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - have already missed two deadlines for a permanent deal on Iran's nuclear program in negotiations that have been ongoing since 2003.
"I have been involved in nuclear talks in the past 10 years...We had the impression that Iran was playing for time or playing games. Compared to the past, I have the impression that Iran is taking the negotiations seriously," Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Geneva after adressing the UN Human Rights Council.
Western powers fear that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and want Tehran to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Iran, however, says its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also said that negotiations in Montreux were going well.
"We are getting closer," she said. "There were significant steps that were made last week including today's talks. I appeal to all public actors to facilitate (talks) rather than put (them) in danger. Diplomatic efforts are extremely serious and have been extremely difficult."
These comments came just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the U.S. Congress to warn against the potential consequences of a deal with Iran.
Netanyahu, who seeks reelection in two weeks, was invited to deliver the speech at the request of the Republicans. The White House criticized the move.