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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 May 2018

Nuclear talks extension ‘not in anyone’s interest’, Iran says

Also on Sunday, Iran's supreme leader said he would rather see no nuclear deal reached than one that undercuts the country's national interests.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the third day of the 51st Munich Security Conference in southern Germany on February 8, 2015. Jim Watson, Pool/AFP Photo
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the third day of the 51st Munich Security Conference in southern Germany on February 8, 2015. Jim Watson, Pool/AFP Photo

MUNICH // Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared to rule out any new extension to negotiations over his country’s nuclear programme on Sunday, as he met with top US diplomat John Kerry to discuss the matter.

“I do not think another extension is in the interest of anyone, as I do not believe this extension was either necessary or useful,” Mr Zarif told a global security conference in the German city of Munich.

“All my energy and focus and that of my colleagues and I’m sure my negotiating partners ... are all focused on reaching an agreement as early as possible.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that he would rather see no deal reached with major global powers, than one that undercuts Iran’s national interests.

“The Americans keep reiterating that it’s better to have no deal than a bad one. I fully agree with that,” the Iranian leader said, according to the Khamenei.ir website.

“It’s better to have no agreement than one that goes against our national interests.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters of state in Iran, leaves the day-to-day administration of policy to President Hassan Rouhani and his government, but has set “red lines” for the concessions he can make over the country’s nuclear programme.

US secretary of state Mr Kerry and Mr Zarif held a second round of talks in Munich on Sunday, as they tried to hammer out a political accord over Iran’s nuclear ambitions ahead of a March 31 deadline. Mr Kerry was due to fly back to Washington later in the day.

Few details of the tough negotiations have been leaked, but world powers are trying to ensure that Tehran’s pathways to developing a nuclear weapon are cut, in return for a gradual easing of international sanctions which have crippled the Iranian economy.

Mr Zarif has refused to publicly discuss details of the negotiations but took issue on Sunday with the idea of a gradual phasing out of the sanctions, saying that this was not mentioned in the November 2013 interim accord.

But, he added: “I don’t think if we don’t have an agreement it will be the end of the world. We try, we fail.”

* Agence France-Presse