U.S. and Iranian diplomats were set to continue negotiations Monday on Iran’s nuclear program, as a deadline for reaching an interim agreement creeps closer.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif joined the talks Sunday with a nearly two-hour meeting in Geneva.
Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are also taking part in the negotiations, which are aimed at resolving ongoing technical disputes standing in the way of a deal between Iran and a group of six world powers.
The two sides have given themselves until March 24 to reach a framework agreement, with a July 1 deadline for a permanent deal that would ensure Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.
Kerry, who met with the British foreign secretary in London Saturday, said the group that includes the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany remains united on Iran.
“There is absolutely no divergence whatsoever in what we believe is necessary for Iran to prove that its nuclear program is going to be peaceful in the future,” he said.
The latest talks come as a new report from the United Nations nuclear agency says it remains concerned about the possible existence of “undisclosed nuclear-related activities” in Iran that could include work linked to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran is in compliance with some provisions of a nuclear agreement.
Iranian state media reports quote Iran’s IAEA ambassador, Reza Najafi, as saying the findings show his country’s “full transparency” and the peaceful nature of its program.