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Hague to join Iran nuclear talks

Foreign Secretary William Hague will travel to Geneva for international talks aimed at reaching agreement over Iran's nuclear programme.

Mr Hague will join counterparts including US secretary of state John Kerry at the meeting and the presence of senior ministers has raised expectations that a deal could be close.

Negotiators have been working since Wednesday to find language acceptable to Tehran and the E3+3 group - the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

In a message on Twitter Mr Hague said: "I will join other E3+3 Foreign Ministers at Geneva #Iran talks tomorrow."

A sticking point in the talks has been Tehran's claim to a right to produce nuclear fuel and Ir anian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Baroness Ashton, the European Union's top diplomat, have met repeatedly since Wednesday trying to resolve that and other differences.

Mr Zarif and Baroness Ashton met briefly today for talks that Iran's official Irna news agency described as "complicated and tough."

It quoted Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi in Geneva as saying that Iran's right to uranium enrichment must be part of any deal.

Iran claims it is enriching only for reactor fuel, medical uses and research. But the technology can also produce material for a nuclear warhead.

Mr Zarif last weekend indicated that Iran was ready to sign a deal that does not expressly state Iran's right to enrich, raising hopes that a deal could be sealed at the current Geneva round.

He was slapped down by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said his country would never compromise on "red lines".

But it has been reported that officials have been working on a compromise avoiding a direct reference to any country's right to enrich but still giving enough leeway for Iran to accept it.

A previous round of talks attended by foreign ministers including Mr Hague, Mr Kerry, and Russia's Sergey Lavrov and senior counterparts earlier this month failed to achieve a breakthrough, with reports suggesting France was holding out for tougher conditions to be placed on Iran in return for the possible lifting of some sanctions.

Relations between Tehran and the West have thawed since the election of president Hassan Rouhani earlier this year.

In recent days David Cameron became the first British Prime Minister to call an Iranian president in more than a decade, with Downing Street saying both leaders agreed it was "important to seize the opportunity" presented by the talks.


From Belfast Telegraph