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Kerry to meet Zarif in Geneva on January 14: Iranian negotiator

US diplomat John Kerry waving/FILE

US diplomat John Kerry waving/FILE

TEHRAN, Jan 9- US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif next week in Geneva ahead of a fresh round of nuclear talks, an Iranian official said Friday.

Kerry and Zarif will meet on January 14 in Geneva “to provide the necessary instruction to their deputies before negotiations” over Tehran’s nuclear programme resume, Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

Araqchi said US and Iranian delegations would hold “bilateral discussions” on January 15-17 ahead of multilateral talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations.

The US State Department announced Thursday that negotiations would restart in Geneva, as a third deadline for a lasting agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme looms.

Acting Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, who has led the US delegation for more than two years, will head the team of senior officials and advisors to the talks, it said.

“We will also have bilateral discussions with other countries in the P5+1 group,” Araqchi said.

Araqchi said that Russia’s chief negotiator, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, would travel to Tehran on January 12 for talks with Zarif.

Under an interim deal between world powers and Tehran in force since January 2014, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment, a process that makes fuel for nuclear power but at high purities can produce fissile material for an atomic bomb.

In return, Iran, which denies seeking to develop an atomic weapon and insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes only, received limited sanctions relief.

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But two deadlines for a comprehensive accord with the P5+1 group of nations — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany — have since been missed.

Both sides agreed last year that a final deal must now be reached by June 30.

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