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Kerry Meets with Iranian Counterpart

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, southern Germany, Feb. 1, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a rare meeting Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to discuss issues concerning Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

A senior U.S. State Department official said Kerry reiterated to Zarif the importance of both sides negotiating in good faith and Iran abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action that came out of an international meeting in November. He also made clear that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the Kerry and Zarif one-on-one meeting is "incredibly important" as the international community prepares for further comprehensive talks.

World powers are set to begin another round of negotiations with Iran in Vienna on February 18 in an effort to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran about its nuclear program.

The U.S. has accused Iran of trying to build a nuclear bomb. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful civilian purposes.

Iran reached a landmark preliminary agreement with six world powers in November that at least temporarily brings a halt to Iran's controversial nuclear program and eases economic sanctions. The six-month pact agreed to in November gives negotiators time to design a more comprehensive solution to the decade-long standoff Tehran has had with the West over its nuclear program.