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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.