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Constructive Movement Concerning Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting of the P5+1, Sept. 26, 2013.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif participated in talks involving Iran P5+1 on September 26, 2013.

President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s historic telephone call last week, in which the two discussed efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, occurred just a day after the highest level face-to-face meeting in years between representatives of the United States and Iran took place on the side-lines of this year’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

Constructive Movement Concerning Iran
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Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke together for about thirty minutes, after both participated in talks involving Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – the group known as the P5+1, which has been negotiating with Iran about its nuclear program for several years.

European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chaired the P5+1-Iran meeting, announced that a new round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program would take place in mid-October in Geneva. Secretary of State Kerry said the meeting of the P5+1 and Iran was “constructive,” and noted that the presentation given by Foreign Minister Zarif to the group was “very different in tone and very different in the vision that he held out with respect to possibilities of the future.”

Secretary Kerry noted, however, that questions concerning Iran’s nuclear program remain to be answered. “One meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn't answer those questions yet, and there's a lot of work to be done,” he said. “So we will engage in that work. . . and hope . . .we can get concrete results that will answer the outstanding questions regarding the program.”

During his address earlier in the week to the General Assembly, President Barack Obama also emphasized that “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

President Obama said that “we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon;” but if the issue of Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved through diplomatic means, the United States and Iran could start down a “long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

“I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” said President Obama, “for while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential.”