US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif amid ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif met on the margins of the Munich Security Conference this morning,” US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
The face-to-face came ahead of world powers holding their next talks on Tehran’s contested nuclear program on Feb. 18.
In an initial accord in November, Iran agreed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — plus Germany that it would roll back its nuclear program and open it to wider inspections.
In return, the world powers agreed to partially lift tough sanctions that have caused immense damage to the Iranian economy.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, who has led the international nuclear talks with Iran, said on Saturday she had a “really interesting” meeting with Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich meeting.
Speaking about the upcoming talks to be held in Vienna in just over two weeks, Ashton added: “I very much look forward to working together with you then.”
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Tehran had stuck to its side of the initial deal, giving access to key nuclear installations and cutting back its enriched uranium stockpile.
Accordingly, the EU and the US began lifting some sanctions on Jan. 20, laying the groundwork for the next, six-month stage of the negotiating process.
During this period, the US and the EU have promised to impose no new sanctions.
The accord provides for ultimately removing the sanctions if Iran lives up to all its commitments.