France: Deal on Iranian nuclear program 'not far'

Following accusations of grandstanding during Geneva nuke talks, French FM says Iran still has to make effort on a few points before final accord; Kerry says hopes to reach deal within months; IAEA chief arrives in Tehran.

November 11, 2013 10:22
2 minute read.
French FM Laurent Fabius.

French FM Laurent Fabius 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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PARIS - France's foreign minister said on Monday he was hopeful a deal could be reached with Iran over its nuclear program, although Tehran still had to make an effort on a few points.

"We are not far from an agreement with the Iranians, but we are not there yet," Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped a deal ending a dispute on Iran's nuclear program would be completed within months.

Speaking at a news conference with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi, Kerry added that he was confident such an agreement would protect US ally Israel.

Kerry added that Washington was "not (in) a race" to complete talks with Iran on its nuclear program.

Marathon talks between the P5+1 - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - and Iran on Saturday did not end in an agreement. The sides arranged to meet again on Nov. 20.

Some diplomats accused France of grandstanding during the talks over the weekend, something Fabius denied, saying Paris was not isolated, but had an independent foreign policy.

"We are firm, but not rigid. We want peace, and we want to reach the end," he said.

Fabius again said Iran must suspend construction of its Arak heavy-water reactor and halt uranium enrichment to a concentration of 20 percent to win an easing of international sanctions that are strangling its economy, a long-held position by Paris.

He declined to go into specific details on what was holding a deal back.

"I am hopeful we will reach a good deal. We want an accord that ensures regional and international stability." Fabius said. "If we don't reach an accord it would be a considerable problem in a few months.

Meanwhile, the chief of the UN's nuclear watchdog arrived on Monday to Iran for talks to discuss further cooperation between the Islamic Republic and the agency, Iranian Press TV reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano landed in Tehran for negotiations, which AFP cited him as saying were "independent" to the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva.

TAmano, said he hoped to finalize a technical agreement with Iran during the trip.

"I hope that today we can have a joint statement based on understandings and agreements that are made. Technical experts from both sides are set to discuss and finalize the details of this agreement," Amano was reported saying by the student news agency (ISNA).

He spoke before meeting the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi. Staff contributed to this report.

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