Iran not optimistic about upcoming nuclear talks

March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM
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TEHRAN, March 17 (UPI) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday he wasn't expecting any major breakthroughs from upcoming nuclear talks in Vienna.

Members of the P5-plus-1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Vienna to discuss Iran's nuclear program. Zarif said Monday he wasn't expecting any major breakthroughs at the meeting.

"We do not expect to hammer out a final agreement in this round, and would not see any necessity for the foreign ministers ... [to] attend," he was quoted by the semiofficial Mehr News Agency as saying.

Iran agreed in November to suspend some aspects of its controversial nuclear program in exchange for modest relief from Western sanctions.

Zarif said previous negotiations were led by Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief for the European Union.

"The main negotiators [Tuesday] will be political deputies of [Western] powers and my own deputy," he said.

Ashton's office said in a scheduling statement she's still leading the Vienna talks this week. She frustrated Iranian leaders last week when she visited with women dissidents in Tehran.

The U.S. State Department said Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman left Sunday for Vienna.

"The talks will focus on moving forward toward a comprehensive solution with Iran on its nuclear program," the State Department said.

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