US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif met for two hours in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday in another round of nuclear talks to try to narrow gaps as they pressed against a March 31 deadline to reach a political agreement.
The meeting included for the first time US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, who spent most of the day separately negotiating technical details of curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
The talks were set to resume yesterday before Kerry returns to Washington in time to testify before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee today on the US Department of State’s budget request for next year.
Zarif told Iranian state media that mid-level bilateral talks had produced “good discussions, but no agreements,” and some differences remained.
“The fundamental gap, in my view, is psychological. Some Western countries, the United States in particular, see sanctions as an asset, a lever to exert pressure on Iran. As long as this thinking persists it will be very hard, difficult to reach a settlement,” he said.
Zarif said the inclusion of Moniz and Salehi reflected a need “for higher level people with all-embracing command over all issues.”
The presence of a close aide and the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Hossein Fereydoon, meant better “coordination with the president,” he added.
The talks took place behind closed doors with no customary photograph opportunity for journalists covering the meetings.
On Saturday, Kerry cautioned against reading too much into the presence of Moniz in Geneva, which US officials said was decided after Iran announced Salahi would attend.
The negotiations between Iran and the “P5+1” powers — the US, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, in addition to Germany — have reached a sensitive stage with divisions remaining, mainly over Iranian uranium enrichment and the pace of removing sanctions.
A recent UN report said Iran had refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a machine used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with the six world powers. Development of advanced centrifuges is feared to lead to material potentially suitable for the manufacture of nuclear bombs.
Iran says it does not intend to develop atomic bombs.
Kerry said US President Barack Obama was not inclined to extend the talks again. The parties already missed a November last year target date.
Obama believed it was “imperative to be able to come to a fundamental political outline and agreement within the time space that we have left,” Kerry said.
Zarif said Rouhani would not accept a small, short-term agreement, nor a broad accord that left room for interpretation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, increasingly critical of US policy, said it was “astonishing” that the talks, which could end by allowing Iran “to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence,” were proceeding.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,