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Intense Diplomacy Under Way At Geneva Talks

  • RFE/RL

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (center) meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (third from left) and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (third from right) on November 9.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (center) meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (third from left) and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (third from right) on November 9.

Representatives of the international community and Iran are holding a third day of talks about Tehran's disputed nuclear program in Geneva.

The foreign ministers of the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China have flown to the Swiss city to add momentum to the talks, which began on November 7.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Michael Mann, said that Ashton met on November 9 with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, but declined to describe what was discussed:

"I haven't really been in a position to talk about the sort of content and the substance of the talks because that is rather for the negotiation room but we all know what the main issues are and we are working very hard to try and move things forward," Mann said.

Other meetings are scheduled in various formats.

Officials, however, cautioned that serious differences remain and that an agreement is unlikely to be reached on November 9.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that the talks have made "good progress" but "important issues" remain:

"It's certainly not possible to say that we can be sure there will be a deal at the end of today," he said.

French Foreign Minister Fabius said on November 9 that there is "no certainty" that a deal will be reached and that Israel's concerns must be taken into account.

A senior U.S. State Department official in Geneva told RFE/RL's Radio Farda on November 8 that the talks that day "continued to make progress" but that there was "still more work to do."

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says no deal has been struck with world powers over the country’s disputed nuclear program. Zarif, quoted by Iranian news agency ISNA, said on November 9 that differences remained between the two sides.

"We have reached an agreement on some questions, but on others there are still disagreements," he said.

Zarif added that differences also remained among the world powers. He said it was unlikely that negotiations would continue on November 10.

The foreign minister said nuclear talks would resume in "seven to 10 days" if no deal was reached by November 9.

Iran denies that its nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, as many in the international community suspect. The six world powers -- the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China -- are reportedly ready to ease some economic sanctions against Iran if Tehran takes clear steps to limit its nuclear program.

In related news, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reza Najafi, said on November 9 that Tehran expects to sign an agreement with the IAEA when the agency's head, Yukiya Amano, visits Tehran on November 11.

The IAEA is seeking to investigate allegations that Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons and, in particular, wants to visit the Parchin military base outside of Tehran.

Iran has refused, saying the site was inspected in 2005 and that it is not a nuclear facility.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Interfax, and AFP