Iran and the United States have blamed each other for the failure to reach an agreement on a deal to limit Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of Western sanctions in talks in Geneva.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks that blamed Iran for lack of the deal and said that the American’s “conflicting statements” damaged confidence in the process.
“Conflicting statements harm the credibility of the one who keeps changing positions and damages confidence. The goal of dialogue is to reduce the lack of trust. Conflicting talk doesn’t give credit to the person saying it,” Zarif said on an Iranian TV talk show.
He said that “considerable progress” was made during three days of talks in Geneva, but claimed that most of the hours were spent with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany trying “to resolve differences among themselves”.
The Iranian foreign minister said he was still hopeful a deal would be reached, but insisted any agreement must include the lifting of all Western sanctions against Iran.
Kerry said earlier on Monday that Iranian envoys had backed away from a wider deal this weekend seeking to ease Western concerns that Tehran could one day develop atomic weapons.
“There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it,” Kerry said during a stop in Abu Dhabi.
He added: “The French signed off on it, we signed off on it.”
Pact with IAEA
Western leaders have tried to display a unified front after reports that France had broken ranks in the recent talks in Geneva and demanded more concessions from Iran on enrichment levels that could be used in weapons production.
Geneva talks saw Iran and six global powers meeting in the Swiss city to broker a deal that could see Tehran freeze its nuclear efforts in exchange for some relief from the sanctions that have battered its economy.
Kerry said he hoped an agreement on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme would be signed within months.
“This is not a race to complete just any agreement,” Kerry said during a visit to the United Arab
However, he added: “Through diplomacy we have an absolute responsibility to pursue an agreement.”
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With negotiators set to resume next week, Iranian officials promoted a separate pact reached with the UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano as a “roadmap” for greater cooperation and transparency, which could move the talks ahead.
“It’s an important step forward, but by no means the end of the process,” Amano of International Atomic Energy Agency told the Associated Press news agency in Tehran.
“There is still much work to be done.”
Iran has denied it seeks nuclear arms and insists its only seeks reactors for energy and medical applications. Iranian officials portrayed the expanded UN access as further sign it seeks to work with the West.