Iran and Sextet to start fifth round of consultations on nuclear program on June 16

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The political directors of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Sextet (five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are to meet on June 16 for a fifth round of consultations, which is to begin on Monday evening, with a view on working out a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

The work of the Sextet at the talks will be coordinated by European diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton.

The IRI will be represented by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the Russian delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The US diplomat will travel to Vienna this week to take part in discussions over Iran’s nuclear program, the State Department said on Sunday.

In a statement, the State Department said Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns would be among the US officials taking part in the latest round of nuclear talks, which include six world powers and Iran and are scheduled for Monday to Friday.

The participation of Burns, who led secret US-Iranian negotiations that helped bring about a November, 24 interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers, could signal that the United States is intensifying efforts to break a logjam in the nuclear talks, as Reuters reports.

Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China set a July 20 deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement in an interim deal they reached in Genevalast November.

The latest round of negotiations in Vienna last month ran into difficulty when it became clear the number of centrifuges Iran wants to maintain was well beyond what would be acceptable to the West.

Iran says it needs to maintain domestic uranium enrichment capability to produce fuel for planned nuclear power plants without having to rely on foreign suppliers.

Some Western officials believe Iran will need many years to build any nuclear power stations and that its goal in enriching uranium is to be able to produce material for nuclear bombs, an allegation Iran denies.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the world powers on Saturday to reach a deal with Tehran by the July 20 deadline, arguing that sanctions meant to restrict its atomic activity had frayed beyond repair. He said the economic curbs had been softened by his government’s policy of detente and would “not be rebuilt” even if no deal was reached.

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