January 9, 2015 / 4:33 PM / in 3 years

U.S., Iran foreign ministers to meet on nuclear issue on January 14

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers will meet in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the Iranian nuclear program ahead of a fresh round of talks among Tehran and major powers on the issue, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU envoy Catherine Ashton address a news conference after a meeting in Vienna November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The meeting will take place ahead of lower-level bilateral nuclear talks between Iran and members of six major powers expected to start on Jan. 15 in Geneva as well as a collective discussion among the entire group scheduled to resume on Jan. 18.

Speaking to reporters, the senior U.S. State Department official said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif planned to meet so as “to provide guidance to their negotiating teams before their next round of discussions.”

In 2013, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, struck a preliminary agreement with Iran for Tehran to suspend sensitive nuclear work in return for easing some economic sanctions imposed during more than 12 years of nuclear dispute.

However, the two sides failed for a second time in November to meet a self-imposed deadline for ending the stand-off and securing a comprehensive agreement, and extended the preliminary accord by seven months.

Iranian and Western officials have said differences remain over Tehran’s uranium enrichment capacity, how fast economic sanctions should be lifted and other key issues.

(This version of the story corrects to November from December in paragraph 5.)

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott

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