CAIRO (Reuters) - France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday he would meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday to assess where Iran stands ahead of the final round of talks on its nuclear program, beginning later that week.
The bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers’ summit in Luxembourg, will be followed by a meeting between Zarif and all the European parties negotiating with Iran.
“Toward the end of next week the ministers will go (to the talks), so I’d like to have an explanation and conversation to see where the Iranians are,” Fabius told reporters in Cairo.
Iran reached a framework nuclear deal with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany on April 2 in Lausanne. The parties are aiming for a final agreement by June 30 under which Iran would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
France is deemed to have been one of the toughest in pressing for limits to prevent Iran acquiring an atomic bomb capability, although it denies seeking one.
“We’re at a stage where the Iranians have to tell us what’s in their mind and I’ll explain to them that France wants a robust accord, but that means verifiable, because an agreement that is not verifiable is an agreement that is not implemented,” he said.
A senior French diplomat added that the powers were not thinking about a long-term extension to the talks and were focused on reaching a deal around the June 30 deadline.
Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey