US, French leaders urge Iran to narrow gaps in nuke talks – Xinhua
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Friday called for Iran to take steps to iron out differences with the major world powers for a nuclear framework deal.
In a conversation over the phone, the two leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a long-term comprehensive deal that fully and verifiably addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” the White House said in a statement.
It said the presidents agreed that “Iran must take steps to resolve several remaining issues.”
Washington and its Western allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, while the Islamic republic insists its nuclear program is solely for power generation and medical purposes.
Britain, France, Russia, the United States, China plus Germany – – the major powers comprising the so-called P5+1 group — have been negotiating with Iran toward a comprehensive deal ever since November 2013, when Tehran agreed to suspend some nuclear activities in return for eased sanctions under an interim deal.
They are aiming for a framework deal by the end of this month and a comprehensive one at the end of June, and are scheduled to resume their talks next week after suspending the latest round held in the Swiss city of Lausanne Friday for the Iranians to celebrate Nowruz, or the Persian New Year.
In a video message released Thursday to mark Nowruz, Obama, while acknowledging “gaps” remaining despite progress made, called on Iranian leaders not to miss a “historic opportunity” to reach a reasonable nuclear deal, warning that otherwise such a moment “may not come again soon.”
LAUSANNE, March 20 (Xinhua) — World powers and Iran will resume discussions next week to further negotiate Teheran’s nuclear issues as the current round of nuclear talks was suspended on Friday without reaching a framework agreement.
Iran state news agency IRNA quoted the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying the negotiations would resume on March 25, and foreign ministers from European countries and the United States would meet in Berlin on Saturday. Full story
TEHRAN, March 20 (Xinhua) — The world powers should choose either to continue pressure against Iran or to come to agreement with the country concerning its nuclear issue, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said on Friday.
“The time is ripe for the United States and its allies to choose between pressure and agreement,” Zarif twitted responding to U.S. President Barack Obama’s Thursday call on Iranian leaders not to miss a “historic opportunity” to reach a reasonable nuclear deal. Full story