Iranian FM, Kerry, Ashton meet in Muscat for nuclear talks

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met US Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton in Oman on Sunday to advance talks on Iran’s nuclear programme that is at a standstill, Reuters reported.

The deliberations are raising the possibility of Iran curbing its uranium enrichment programme in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions by the West.

Iran is seeking the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the US because of its nuclear programme which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes. The US, however, believes Iran is in the process of making a nuclear device.

“We need to reach a solution based on mutual respect and cooperation. If the West is interested in reaching such a solution, there is a possibility to find a solution and to reach an understanding before 24 November,” Zarif said.

The Muscat meeting was arranged to clear final hurdles ahead of a major round of talks to be held in Vienna on 18 November. A broad nuclear agreement is being targeted for 24 November.

There are hopes that the three way talks would bridge the gaps between the two sides, ahead of the 24 November deadline which the US and other counterparts expressed no intention of extending.

Iran and the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia, the US plus Germany — agreed in July to extend the talks by four months to 24 November as they could not narrow down significant gaps on core issues during the previous six months.