Kerry and Iran's Zarif set for Paris nuclear talks: sources

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 16, 2015 5:42 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif will meet for talks in Paris on Friday on Iran's nuclear policy, Iranian and U.S. sources said.

"Minister Zarif and Secretary Kerry are highly likely to meet this afternoon in Paris," an Iranian diplomatic source told Reuters. Kerry is in the French capital to honor the 17 victims killed in last week's shooting in France, and Zarif is due to meet French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius later in the day.

A senior State Department official confirmed the two men would meet on Friday following talks this week in Geneva.

Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- have renewed their quest for an elusive nuclear deal - seen as crucial to reducing the risk of a wider Middle East war - after negotiators failed for the second time in November to meet a self-imposed deadline.

The new deadline for a long-term agreement is June 30.

The major powers hope to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program, which the West suspects may seek to develop atomic weapons, in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

In a New Year's address to the foreign and French diplomatic corps on Friday, President Francois Hollande said questions were unanswered over Iran's uranium enrichment and the production of fissile material that could be used to create a nuclear bomb.

"France wants a definitive agreement, but with a clear line: yes for Iran to have civilian nuclear power, but no to military nuclear power. We will be intransigent on this principle," he said.

France, a U.N. Security Council veto-holder, has long held out for strict terms for a nuclear deal trading a loosening of international sanctions on Iran's oil-based economy in return for commitments by Tehran to show its nuclear work is as peaceful as it says.

(Reporting By John Irish and Arshad Mohammed; editing by Mark John)