The U.S. representative overseeing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program said the P5+1 had “a very workmanlike, very constructive and I would say productive set of conversations” with the Iranians in Vienna over the past few days.
The latest round of talks is meant to forge a final deal out of the six-month interim agreement already under way.
“We all, of course, have different perspectives about how to resolve those issues, how they should be addressed; but, indeed, we discussed the entire range of subjects,” Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told MSNBC. “…We have now set the table by arraying all of the things that need to be discussed in that comprehensive agreement, a timetable of meetings a process going forward. We began the work. Now we’re going to get even deeper into the hard work. This is going to be difficult. This is going to be tough. This is going to be complex.”
Before the P5+1 went into the week’s meetings, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said there would be no deal forged to America’s liking, though he gave the foreign ministry permission to discuss nukes anyway. “It won’t get anywhere but I’m not against it,” he tweeted.
“There was a commitment by everyone sitting at the negotiating table today to try to get this done and to get this done by the end of July when the six months of the joint plan of action are up. That was a very worthwhile first step,” Sherman said. “We expect and see that all parties are, in fact, following through on the commitments they have been — they made in that first step. But we don’t want it to be the only step. And we don’t want it to be the last step. We have to get to a comprehensive agreement for two reasons.”
“We have to be sure, as President Obama has said, that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. And secondly, we have to make sure that the international community has confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is an exclusively peaceful one. That’s the measure of a comprehensive agreement. That’s what we’re setting out to do.”
Sherman will spend the weekend traveling to Jerusalem, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai “for consultations with their governments and representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council following P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Vienna,” the State Department said this morning.
“What we can do, what we always do is talk to people around the world about what is now they are able to do under the joint plan of action. There was limited targeted sanctions relief for the six months that the joint plan of action is enforced,” Sherman said. “And we have made all the necessary arrangements for that limited targeted sanctions relief. And we are committed to the repatriation of funds from Iranian frozen assets that are permissible under the joint plan of action.”
A senior administration official told reporters on background that the meetings were “long past speeches of ideology.”
“That really does not occur. It was very conversational, it was back and forth. It was not one long presentation followed by another long presentation. It was engaged and it was a dialogue. It was substantive. It covered all of the issues that need to be put on the table to establish the way forward in a comprehensive agreement. And I would say that those words are descriptive of everyone at the table,” the official said.
Tweeted the ayatollah during this week’s talks:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 19, 2014