U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met after the Iranian held wider talks with the United States and other major powers to address Western suspicions Iran may be trying to develop atomic weapons.
Following a meeting with leaders from five other world powers on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pulled aside Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for about 30 minutes of unexpected, one-on-one nuclear talks.
Their meeting was the highest level official interaction between U.S. and Iranian officials since the Islamic revolution of 1979, when American hostages were seized and diplomatic ties severed.
Kerry said he and his counterparts had a "constructive meeting" with Zarif, noting the "very different tone" from Iran as compared to under the former president. However, he pointed out that "one meeting and a change of tone" does not answer questions about Iran\’s nuclear program.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran\’s foreign minister, said after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry following the meeting that the key world powers had agreed to fast-track negotiations over the programme to within a year.
However, Kerry said later that the US would not lift sanctions on Iran until it showed it was not pursuing a nuclear-weapons capability.
President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was committed to negotiate on its nuclear programme in "good faith" after the highest-level talks yet held with world powers.
"We are fully prepared to seriously engage in the process toward a negotiated and mutually agreeable settlement and do so in good faith and with a business-like mind," Rouhani told a forum in New York.
Iran\’s new centrist President Rouhani says he wants a deal on his country\’s nuclear program in three to six months, saying the "only way forward" is for a timeline to be inserted into the talks.
During a U.N. disarmament meeting, Rouhani said no nations should possess nuclear weapons. He says there are no "right hands for these wrong weapons."
He says nuclear disarmament is Iran\’s highest priority and called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and put its widely suspected nuclear arms under international control.
U.S. officials confirmed that Iran made such a proposal, but they encouraged Tehran to come prepared to make a more detailed offer when the so-called P5+1 talks resume next month in Geneva, as agreed during the meeting.
Kerry said he was pleased to see Zarif come to New York to meet with major world powers, and said Zarif put some "possibilities" on the table. However, he later told CBS that the U.S. will not lift sanctions until Iran has a verifiable and transparent nuclear inspection process in place.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the tone and spirit of the talks were extremely good and were a big improvement over recent years.
Iran is under international sanctions over suspicions that it is trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful civilian purposes and says it has a right to carry out such a program.