Obama and Hollande ‘in full agreement’ on Iran terms
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As details emerged of a Western proposal that could let Iran sell oil and gold in return for curbs on its nuclear activities on Wednesday, François Hollande and Barack Obama insisted they could keep Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.
French President François Hollande and US President Barack Obama are both determined to obtain guarantees from Iran that it will not seek to develop a nuclear weapon, Hollande's office said on Wednesday.
"The two heads of state expressed their common will to obtain from Iran guarantees that it is definitively abandoning its military nuclear programme," Hollande's office said in a statement after the two spoke by telephone on Wednesday.
The White House issued its own statement after the call saying the United States and France were in "full agreement" on the terms of the deal which they proposed to Iran, as well as their approach to negotiations.
"They consider the [six powers'] proposal to be a sound step toward assuring the international community that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful," the statement read.
The United States, European Union members and Iran worked for months on a proposal to end a 10-year stand-off over Tehran's nuclear programme. Talks in Geneva last week between Iran and six world powers made notable progress towards a deal before snagging on some details, and will be resumed on November 20.
‘Not far’ from deal
While Iran and some diplomats from Western nations at first blamed France for the hold-up and accused it of upstaging other powers, US Secretary of State John Kerry later said that Western states had been united on the terms of a deal, but that Iran had not been able to accept it.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday that an agreement between Western powers and Iran was “not far”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Wednesday that a "bad deal" with Iran on its nuclear programme could lead to war and his aides challenged US assertions to have offered Tehran only "modest" relief from sanctions.
Israel calculated the value of direct sanctions relief on offer at $15-20 billion. Israel has lobbied hard against any such deal and says the United States, its closest ally, is being misled by overtures of detente coming from Tehran.
One source briefed on the discussions told Reuters that Iran was being offered a chance to sell about $3.5 billion of oil over six months as well as $2-3 billion of petrochemicals and $1-2 billion of gold. The source, who criticised the offer, said it would also let Tehran import some $7.5 billion of food and medicine plus $5 billion of other goods currently barred.
Kerry told US lawmakers on Wednesday that any new sanctions against Iran would risk ruining the talks.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)