GENEVA, (Xinhua): European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said early Sunday that world powers would reconvene talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear program on Nov. 20.
Talks between the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany, and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program was extended to an unscheduled third day on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov joined the talks one day after his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Germany and France made unscheduled trips to Geneva Friday.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong also arrived here late Saturday. Their presence indicated a deal may be possible.
However, after three-day intensive talks, the two sides failed to nail down an interim deal as expected.
“A lot of concrete progress have been achieved, but some differences remain,” Ashton told reporters, stressing that the objective was to reach conclusion.
Calling it “a good meeting,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the parties had “differences of views,” while they were working together.
“Hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement when we meet again. We have done a lot of work, and I hope we can do a bit more,” said Zarif.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later told reporters that they had done a “long” but “productive” process, and dealt with the question of a country’s potential move toward nuclear weapons.
Echoing Ashton’s words of “concrete progress,” he said, “We came to Geneva to narrow the differences, and I can tell you, without any exaggeration, we have not only narrowed differences and clarified those that remain, but we have made significant progresses in working through the approaches.”
The top U.S. diplomat put the talks under the bigger picture of U.S.-Iran relationship, saying it took time to build confidence between countries that had really been at odds with each other for a long time now.
However, he warned that “the window for diplomacy” did not stay open indefinitely.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li said China would continue to make efforts to help find a negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear issue at an early date.
“Given the complexity of the issue, the international community can not finalize a deal with one round of talks,” he said. “But all participants have shown willingness to solve the problem, and they would like to maintain the sound momentum.”
Delegates of the six world powers started a new round of talks with Iran in the Swiss city on Thursday to seek a “first step” deal.
In the previous round of talks last month, Iran proposed a plan as a basis for negotiation, but details of the proposal were not disclosed.