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Thaw in Iran-US ties offers hope for nuclear issue

Updated: 2013-09-27 19:27
( Xinhua)

Thaw in Iran-US ties offers hope for nuclear issue

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media after a meeting of the foreign ministers representing the permanent five member countries of the United Nations Security Council at the UN Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - Positive signs in New York are giving hopes for progress in stalled negotiations over Iran's nuclear issue.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Thursday with his counterparts from the six countries involved in talks with Tehran over its nuclear program before a rare one-on-one meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Zarif-Kerry meeting was the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in years.

Diplomats from the six countries -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- were all encouraged by the positive attitudes of Tehran and they have schedlued a new round of talks for October 15-16 in Geneva.

Kerry told reporters after his talks with Zarif that the meeting was "constructive" and that he was impressed by Zarif's presentation as it was "very different in tone, and very different in the vision he held out with respect to the possibilities in the future".

But Kerry also stressed that words must be translated into action. "Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn't answer those questions yet and there is a lot of work to do," he said.

Zarif also said the meeting was constructive. "We hope to be able to make progress... in a timely fashion, to make sure (there is) no concern that Iran's program is anything but peaceful."

He said he was satisfied with the first step and hoped for concrete action. "Now we have to see whether we can match our positive words with serious deeds so we can move forward."

Chosen by newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani to lead the nuclear dossier, Zarif is very ambitious in advancing the negotiations as he hopes to "move toward finalizing it, hopefully, within a year".

In the talks with foreign ministers of the six countries, Zarif reiterated that his country has no intention to develop nuclear weapons. He added that Iran has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and is willing to put all its nuclear activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He expressed his country's willingness to resume talks with the six countries in a brand-new fashion and the hope that the six countries would show flexibility and lift sanctions against his country.

Rouhani and Zarif, both in New York this week to attend the UN General Assembly, said they are anxious to reach an agreement as soon as possible because Iran wants to relieve itself from the international sanctions.

Unlike his hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani, a moderate, said Iran was committed to negotiate in "good faith and with a business-like mind".