news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

Catherine Fainkan-Bokonga

Geneva: Representatives from Iran and the United States meet today and tomorrow for the first official bilateral direct talks on Iranian nuclear program in order to reach an agreement before the informal deadline of July 20.

The announcement on Saturday of the US-Iran meetings in Geneva came as a surprise, but appeared to confirm the need for bilateral session to close gaps between Tehran and Washington's positions.

The Iranian delegation is led by vice foreign minister Abbas Araquchi, and Deputy Secretary William Burns heads the American one. 

The bilateral talks are taking place in the five-star President Wilson Hotel located in front of Geneva’s lake. The two days program has not been announced. 

The first formal agreement between Iran and the group of the five permanent members of UN Security Council (P5/ China, France, UK, Russia, US) and Germany (+1) was signed in November 2013.

Tehran is seeking an easing of international sanctions such as those targeting oil imports, while the P5+1 seek to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment program. 

The last round of discussions took place in May (Austria) and was qualified by a senior Obama administration official to have been “slow and difficult” with significant gaps in the negotiating positions remaining.

This separate consultation between Iran and the US prepares the next session with the other P5 +1 members (that will take place in Vienna (Austria) between June 16 and 20.

A similar meeting is expected in Rome on June 11 and 12 between representatives of Iran and Russia.

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