Foreign Minister Steinmeier met his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, for talks in Berlin on Thursday (15 January). They focused chiefly on the E3+3 negotiations about Iran’s nuclear programme. A fresh round of negotiations on ending the conflict with Iran is due to start in Geneva on Sunday. Foreign Minister Steinmeier emphasised the crucial stage the negotiations had reached after more than ten years. “We must leave no stone unturned in our search for a solution,” he urged.
The negotiations between Iran and the international community about the Iranian nuclear programme have been ongoing for more than ten years. In late 2013, some progress had been made and a Joint Plan of Action was agreed on; at the end of November 2014, the talks were extended for a second time. The basis for an agreement is now to be created by the end of March.
At the start of his Berlin meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, Steinmeier called for a redoubled effort to resolve the conflict, saying, “We must leave no stone unturned in our search for a solution.” The negotiations between Iran and the E3+3 (Germany, France, the UK, China, Russia and the US) are to be continued in Geneva on Sunday. Steinmeier went on: “We all share the view that these negotiations cannot be extended indefinitely.” Therefore, he said, it was imperative to make use of “this new window”.
Steinmeier explained that the negotiating framework was “clear”: the possibility of Iran accessing nuclear weapons was to be “unequivocally”, “verifiably” and “permanently” precluded. In return, Steinmeier went on, the sanctions against Iran had to be lifted in stages.
A constructive role in the region
Steinmeier also announced his intention to talk to Zarif about the Middle East region, including ISIS terrorism, the situation in Iraq and the war in Syria. He underlined the vital need ultimately to reach a political solution. In view of the war that had plagued the country for four years and the threat posed by ISIS, he said, “more of the same” was certainly not an option. Steinmmeier also expressed the wish to his Iran opposite number that Iran might play “a constructive role in all of that”.