Christmas break for Iran nuclear talks

Iran’s foreign minister said the talks would continue, but discussions have made slow progress

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Negotiations on implementing a landmark nuclear agreement will be put on hold for the Christmas holiday, Iranian and European officials agreed on Sunday.

Iran’s foreign minister Abbas Araqchi and the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton said the talks would continue, but discussions have been making slow progress between Iran and the P5+1 - U.N. Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

"With the Christmas holidays in sight it was decided to interrupt and resume (the talks) a week after the holidays,” said Araqchi, adding that discussions were progressing slowly because of “interpretations” of points of the agreement that Iran and world powers clinched in Geneva on Nov. 24.

The negotiations, which are aimed at setting a framework and a timeline for the nuclear accord, stretched into a fourth day in Geneva on Sunday. Western powers suspect Iran’s nuclear activities mask military objectives, despite repeated denials in Tehran that they are entirely peaceful.

Under the Geneva accord, Iran agreed to roll back or freeze parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by Western powers not to impose new sanctions.

“The talks on implementing the accord are not easy. They are progressing, but slowly,” he told a joint news conference on Sunday with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino.

“I hope all sides will avoid delving into issues that could become troublesome and complicate the process,” Zarif added without elaborating.

(With AFP)