U.S., Iran eye progress in next round of nuclear talks: Kerry

SHAFAQNA – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that he and his Iranian counterpart would seek at their meeting on Wednesday to lay the ground for negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program to make greater progress.

Kerry meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva in a bid to revive the search for an elusive nuclear accord after negotiators failed for the second time in November to meet a self-imposed deadline.

“The meeting is calculated to take stock, number one, and to provide direction to our teams, number two, and to hopefully be able to accelerate the process to make greater progress,” Kerry told reporters on a visit to India.

Zarif has also struck a conciliatory tone ahead of the new push to end the 12-year-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is peaceful. The West fears it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The Kerry-Zarif meeting precedes lower-level bilateral talks between Iran and members of six major powers the next day, and a collective discussion among the entire group on Jan. 18.

In 2013, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, struck a preliminary agreement with Iran for the suspension of nuclear work in return for easing some economic sanctions.

After missing the November deadline for a comprehensive agreement, the preliminary accord was extended for another seven months.

Iranian and Western officials have said differences remain over Tehran’s uranium enrichment capacity, how fast economic sanctions should be lifted and other key issues.

“We’re at a juncture where most of the issues are now getting fleshed out and understood and I think it’s important for him and for me to take stock,” Kerry said of his meeting with Zarif on Wednesday.

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