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Nuclear accord ‘possible this week’, says Iran’s Zarif

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-06

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) told FRANCE 24 Tuesday that an agreement with the international community over the country’s nuclear programme could be reached at talks in Geneva later this week.

A deal to end the standoff between Iran and the international community over its nuclear programme could be reached at talks in Geneva later this week, the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday.

Zarif also said that Iran could use it its influence to encourage non-Syrian forces fighting in Syria to withdraw from the country.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 in Paris during talks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, Zarif said of a possible nuclear accord: “I believe it is possible to reach an agreement during this meeting, but I can only talk for our side, I cannot talk for the other side.” However, Zarif said that a failure to strike a deal in Geneva would not be “a disaster”.

'It's not that difficult to reach an agreement'

“I believe we've come very far in the last three rounds [of talks], so we [only] need to make a few more steps,” said the foreign minister.

“We are prepared to make them in Geneva. But if we can't take them in Geneva, we'll take them in the next round.”

The latest round of discussions between Iran and the so-called P5 +1 group - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany - are due to take place on November 7 and 8.

Zarif said that there remained “a great deal of mistrust in Iran concerning the attitude, the behaviour and the approach of some members of P5+1” but that Iran would enter the discussions “in good faith”.

Iran’s nuclear programme has long been a bone of contention with the West, which fears the country is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic, though, says it wants only civilian atomic energy.

Thaw in relations

Relations have thawed in recent months, however, after the relatively moderate Hassan Rohani was elected president in June.

And on Tuesday the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said it was considering an invitation from Tehran to visit the country for talks over setting up a possible inspection regime.

The IAEA wants access to sites, officials and documents in Iran including the Parchin military base, where it believes nuclear-related explosives tests might have taken place, possibly a decade ago.

Referring to the ongoing Syrian conflict, Zarif said: “Iran is prepared to call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria.”

Members of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah are known to be fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s troops against rebel forces in Syria’s ongoing conflict.

“We are prepared for everybody with influence to push for [the] withdrawal of all non-Syrians from the Syrian soil,” Zarif added.

Date created : 2013-11-05

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