The United States and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council said Thursday they were pleased by a new tone and attitude from Iran in talks aimed at resolving the impasse over its nuclear program and set a new round of negotiations for next month.
After a group meeting and then a one-on-one session between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Kerry called the talks “constructive” and said he was struck by a “very different tone” from Iran. But he stressed that words must be translated into action if Iran wants to prove it is not seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.
“We’ve agreed to try to continue a process that would try to make concrete and find a way to answer the questions that people have about Iran’s nuclear program,” Kerry told reporters. “Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone, that was welcome, does not answer those questions.
“All of us were pleased that the foreign minister came today and that he did put some possibilities on the table.”
The meeting between Zarif and Kerry, who sat next to each other at a U-shaped table, was the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in six years. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton suggested that the two men had shaken hands and been cordial with each other.
Speaking after Kerry, Zarif said the meetings had been “very constructive” and “very businesslike.”
“We hope to be able to make progress to solve this issue in a timely fashion [and] to make sure [there is] no concern that Iran’s program is anything but peaceful,” he said.
“I am satisfied with this first step,” Zarif said. “Now we have to see whether we can match our positive words with serious deeds so we can move forward.”