EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, said Thursday that "substantial and detailed talks" had been taking place between Ashton and Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif. The talks resumed in Geneva Wednesday.
The Iran-based Tasmin News Agency reported that Zarif and Ashton entered their fourth session of direct meetings Thursday afternoon after they held two other such sessions on Wednesday and another one earlier Thursday.
"We entered the details of issues... but of course there are differences of opinion," said Zarif after the first meeting Thursday.
Foreign Minister Zarif is also Iran’s top negotiator in the nuclear talks, and Catherine Ashton oversees diplomacy with Iran on behalf of the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).
Tasmin added that in a Wednesday message on his Facebook page, Zarif said that “serious and detailed talks” with Ashton on a potential “final agreement” will start on Thursday morning.
Iran and the G5+1 world powers had a brief and introductory plenary session on Wednesday, focusing mainly on the process by which negotiations would be held.
The sides agreed to resume the nuclear talks in bilateral meetings between different delegations, at the level of deputy chief negotiators.
The first day of talks saw the Iranian team hold separate bilateral meetings with delegations representing Russia, the US, France, Britain and Germany.
This is the second time in a month that the Swiss city of Geneva is hosting representatives from Iran and the group of six major world powers. They had three days of intensive talks on November 7-9.
During the previous round of talks, the two sides managed to narrow their differences on Iran’s nuclear program, but objections by France stopped them from reaching an interim deal at the end of the talks.
On Wednesday, a senior American administration official said in Geneva that the draft agreement penned during the previous rounds was still the basis for the talks.
Diplomats decline to reveal the details of their demands but there are speculations that the interim deal would halt advance of Iran’s enrichment capacity and roll back part of its nuclear program for six months. In exchange, the US would offer what American officials have described as “very modest” sanctions relief.