Iran and world powers will resume talks next month in New York on reaching a long-term nuclear deal, a senior official said Monday, according to the AFP news agency.
"It is our understanding that those talks will be in New York in mid-February, with dates still being confirmed on schedule, but it will be around that time period," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted as having said.
She confirmed that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had agreed to hold the next round of talks in the United States, rather than in Geneva where the negotiations have been held so far.
New York has a similar UN "support infrastructure" to Geneva, Psaki said, which was "important for a comprehensive agreement."
She said it was not yet clear if the talks would be inside the UN headquarters in New York, adding that "this is the first step of the next stage here, and a lot of this is still being determined."
It also remained unclear whether any further talks would be held in New York, or whether they would move back to Geneva.
Congressional aides made similar remarks last week, saying the Obama administration expects negotiations on a final nuclear agreement to begin by mid-February, though the location was not specified at that time.
Under a landmark agreement between Iran and the world powers gathered as P5+1, which took effect January 20 and is to last six months, Tehran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
In return the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which the United States has already begun to do.
The negotiators have initially set out a six-month timeframe to negotiate a fully comprehensive deal, but it could be extended for a further six months.
Iran’s Foreign Minister claimed last week, however, that his country never agreed to dismantle any part of its nuclear program in the interim deal.
Speaking to CNN, Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that the Obama administration was mischaracterizing the concessions by Iran in the six-month nuclear deal.
Similar comments were made by President Hassan Rouhani, who insisted that even under the interim deal, Iran still had a right to peaceful nuclear technology, including enrichment, which he described as "part and parcel of the inalienable rights of states."
"It is part a part of our national pride, and nuclear technology has become indigenous," he said. "And recently, we have managed to secure very considerable prowess with regards to the fabrication of centrifuges," he added, explaining that "not under any circumstances" would Iran destroy any of its existing centrifuges.