GENEVA (AP) — Seven-natio talks on a deal meant to start a rollback of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief were delayed Thursday as senior envoys from both sides wrestled with a draft they hoped would be acceptable to both Tehran and its six world powers negotiating with it.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi suggested that the momentum characterizing much of a previous round had been slowed, as top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton sat down with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss the draft.
As the two broke for lunch, Zarif said the two were discussing "details and wording" of the document but pointed to what his country sees as a potential problem ahead.
"We expect the West to have a united stance over draft," he told Iranian state TV, alluding to what Iran says were complications to reaching a first-step deal at the last round earlier this month because of differences among the six world powers.
Araghchi suggested those differences had set back the talks, telling The Associated Press: "What we are trying now is to rebuild confidence that we lost in the previous round of negotiations." He spoke of some unspecified "misunderstanding or ... mismanagement in the previous round," and of the "difficult job" of trying to bridge differences.
He also said talks have included possible ways to reduce sanctions on Iranian oil sales and banking. The U.S. and its partners have spoken of offering some financial concessions, such as unfreezing Iranian bank accounts from previous oil sales.
If the talks produce a deal to freeze Iran's nuclear efforts, negotiators will pursue a more comprehensive agreement that would ensure that Tehran's program is solely for civilian purposes. Iran would get some sanctions relief under such a first-step deal, without any easing of the harshest measures — those crippling its ability to sell oil, its main revenue maker.