PHOTO: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
UPDATE 1600 GMT: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry remained in Lausanne on Thursday, with the Iranian and American delegations meeting in the Swiss city this morning.
Kerry said after the session, “We are pushing some tough issues, but we made progress.”
An afternoon meeting between Zarif and Kerry has been postponed, but they are now scheduled to convene at 5:30 p.m. local time, with top technical negotiators Ali Akbar Salehi and Ernest Moniz conferring at the same time.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman are currently holding a preparatory meeting.
Contrasting images of Zarif….
The Foreign Minister with senior Iranian negotiator Majid Takht-e Ravanchi:
An Zarif in heated discussion with Iran’s top technical negotiator, Ali Akbar Salehi:
Iran and the US continued four days of nuclear talks in Switzerland on Wednesday, with no sign of a breakthrough for a comprehensive deal by an informal deadline of March 31 — set by the Americans — and a formal cut-off of July 1.
On Wednesday night, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary John Kerry and their teams carried out political negotiations, accompanied by the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid. Meanwhile, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, continued technical discussions with US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
The lead Iranian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, also conferred with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov during the day.
In a sign that a resolution is not imminent, Zarif said it had not been necessary for other Foreign Ministers from the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, China, Russia, and France) to attend: “When the solutions are found and we approach a deal, then all the foreign ministers of the negotiating parties should come.”
Zarif flew to Brussels on Monday night to see the British, German, and French Foreign Ministers.
While Iran’s Salehi said hopefully that almost all technical issues had been resolved, US senior officials were cautious. One said, “There is no way around it: We still have a ways to go. Even within this space, we have some tough issues to address.”
Tehran has made concessions over its number and level of uranium centrifuges and may have agreed to ship almost all of its nuclear fuel out of the country. However, Iran is insisting on a quick lifting of US-led sanctions, while Washington is saying the process must be “gradual”, implying that it will extend over years.