News / Middle East

    Iran, World Powers Hold 'Substantive' Nuclear Talks

    Michael Mann, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks to press during closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 18, 2014.
    Michael Mann, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks to press during closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 18, 2014.
    Reuters
    Six world powers and Iran began “substantive” talks on Tuesday in pursuit of a final settlement on Tehran's contested nuclear program in the coming months despite caveats from both sides that a breakthrough deal may prove impossible.
     
    Senior U.S. and Iranian officials met separately for 80 minutes on the sidelines of the negotiations in Vienna.
     
    Details were not given, but such bilateral talks were inconceivable before the 2013 election of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, as president of Iran. U.S.-Iranian dialogue is seen as crucial to any breakthrough nuclear agreement.
     
    “The conversation was productive and focused mainly on how the comprehensive talks will proceed from here,” a senior U.S. State Department official said on condition of anonymity after Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman's meeting with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
     
    Sherman headed the U.S. delegation, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Araqchi led Tehran's negotiating team at the table with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
     
    After Sherman's meeting with Araqchi, the Iranians met on Tuesday evening with all six powers to continue talks on how to approach future negotiations, diplomats said. The discussions will resume on Wednesday.
     
    “Much of the first day was focused on discussions about process for how the comprehensive talks will proceed,” a senior U.S. official said. “We made clear that every issue is on the table as part of the comprehensive negotiations, and now it's time to dig into the details and get to work.”
     
    In the evening session between Iran and the six “substantive issues began to be discussed”, the U.S. official added.
     
    It is the first round of high-level negotiations since a Nov. 24 interim deal that, halting a decade-long slide towards outright conflict, has seen Tehran curb some nuclear activities for six months in return for limited relief from sanctions to allow time for a long-term agreement to be hammered out.
     
    The stakes are huge. If successful, the negotiations could help defuse many years of hostility between Iran - an energy-exporting giant - and the West, ease the danger of a new war in the Middle East, transform power relationships in the region and open up vast new possibilities for Western businesses.
     
    The talks are expected to last two or three days.
     
    Modest Expectations
     
    Araqchi sounded upbeat about the initial 40-minute discussions but appeared to draw a line against Tehran's ballistic missile program being addressed in any future talks.
     
    “We had good discussions ... and we are trying to set an agenda. If we can agree on an agenda in the next two to three days, it means we have taken the first step. And we will move forward based on that agenda,” he said. “This agenda ... will be about Iran's nuclear program and nothing else, nothing except Iran's nuclear activities can be discussed.”
     
    He was answering a question about Iran's ballistic missile work after U.S. officials said they want Tehran to accept limitations on any nuclear-capable missile technology as part of any long-term deal reached by Iran and the powers.
     
    There may be other sticking points in the talks. Iran says it will not cede its “right” to install advanced centrifuges to refine uranium, signaling defiance in a manner that may irk the United States and its European allies.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora