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Kerry to hold nuclear talks with Iran FM, EU's Ashton

26 september 2014, 14:29

 US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold three-way talks later Thursday with his Iranian counterpart and EU foreign policy chief as they push for a nuclear deal in the next two months, AFP reports.

Kerry will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and chief EU negotiator Catherine Ashton after several days of lower level talks in New York and as a November 24 deadline looms.

"We thought it was time to touch base at the foreign minister level, trilaterally, as another step in the process," a senior State Department official said.

"This will be a good opportunity to take stock of the work that has been done this week and discuss the path forward."

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Iran to seize the "historic opportunity" of reaching a deal with world powers on its contested nuclear program in a speech at the United Nations.

"My message to Iran's leaders and people is simple: do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful."

Western powers fear Tehran is using its nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions.

Talks between Iran and six powers, known as the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- are currently at a critical juncture.

The six powers returned to the negotiating table in New York last Friday, with all sides warning that the race to a final deal would be tough with major gaps remaining.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is determined to lift damaging Western sanctions that have hit his economy hard and prevented oil companies from doing business in the oil-rich country.

He told the UN Thursday that Tehran wanted a final agreement that would allay international concerns over Iran's nuclear program.

"We are determined to continue negotiations with our interlocutors in earnest and good faith, based on mutual respect and confidence," he said.

Among the issues yet to be decided is where and when to hold the next round of talks, which have bounced between Vienna and Geneva in recent months.

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