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Asia-pacific

‘Real chance’ for nuclear deal, Putin tells Rohani

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-19

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani Monday that there is a “real chance” of a deal being struck when talks between Tehran and six world powers over Iran’s nuclear programme resume in Geneva on Wednesday.

There is a “real chance” of a deal being reached when talks over Tehran’s nuclear programme resume later this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Iranian President Hassan Rohani on Monday.

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany are due to begin again in Geneva on Wednesday, with hopes of ending a decade-long stand-off over Iran’s atomic ambitions.

They are set to debate a proposal that would ease sanctions on Tehran if it suspends some parts of a programme that many countries, particularly in the West, fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability.

“Vladimir Putin underlined that at the moment a real chance has appeared to find a solution to this long-running problem,” the Kremlin said after Putin telephoned Rohani, who vowed to mend Iran's international relations when he was elected in June.

Israel opposes any deal to lift sanctions and France, one of the world powers at the talks, has said it would not back any such deal unless it was certain Iran has renounced any nuclear weapons programme.

Iran denies it is seeking weapons. But its refusal so far to curb its programme and lack of full openness with UN inspectors have drawn several rounds of UN sanctions and much harsher measures from the United States and Europe.

Two of the steps Western powers want Iran to take in the initial phase of any deal are to stop producing uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent - a relatively short step from weapons-grade material - and to produce less 3.5 percent enriched uranium.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested Iran was prepared to do both.

“The steps that Iran is prepared to set out as its commitments are quite, quite substantial and go in the direction of the demands of the international community at a much faster pace, in fact, than had been expected,” Lavrov said, according to Russia’s official gazette, Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

“This applies primarily to suspending enrichment above five percent and restricting capacity for five percent enrichment within certain parameters,” he said.

Russia, which built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, backs Iran’s desire for recognition of its right to enrich uranium and opposes any additional sanctions.

‘Excessive demands’

But despite Russia’s belief that a deal can be reached, Rohani, in a likely reference to French and Israeli demands for more concessions, appeared less optimistic.

“Good progress has been made in the Geneva nuclear talks, but excessive demands could put a win-win agreement in jeopardy,” he told Putin, according to Rohani’s website.

“In our view, conditions must not be created that give rise to damaging the will to achieve an agreement and reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, has said that he has “no specific expectations” for this week’s talks.

Last week, a senior US official said the six major powers and Iran are getting closer to an initial agreement, but Kerry struck a more cautious note during a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday.

“I have no specific expectations with respect to the negotiation in Geneva except that we will negotiate in good faith and we will try to get a first-step agreement,” he said.

Kerry said he hoped “Iran will understand the importance of coming there prepared to create a document that can prove to the world this is a peaceful program”.

“I am not going to negotiate this in public. We all need to be respectful of each others’ processes here and positions - and so it’s best to leave that negotiation to the negotiating table,” he added.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-11-19

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