The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

September 30, 2013

Foreign minister: Iran open to negotiations

(Continued)

Rice said sanctions would remain in place until the United States and its allies were satisfied Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons.

In a separate interview, Secretary of State John Kerry said an agreement could come in a matter of months if Iran came to the table in good faith.

“The United States is not going to lift the sanctions until it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is going be doing with its program,” he said last week before Obama and Rouhani spoke.

The skepticism went both ways.

“Definitely, a history of high tensions between Tehran and Washington will not go back to normal relations due to a phone call, meeting or negotiation,” said Araghchi.

The U.S. and Iran broke ties after the 1979 Islamic Revolution when mobs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. A total of 52 hostages were held for 444 days.

Araghchi also reiterated Khamenei’s statements that he is not optimistic about the potential outcome.

The focus now turns to negotiations among foreign ministers and other officials from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. The group wants Iran to present a more detailed proposal for a path forward before or at the next round of negotiations, scheduled in Geneva on Oct. 15-16.

If Iran complies, the oil-rich nation could see the easing of economic sanctions imposed after years of Iran’s stonewalling inspections and secrecy about its nuclear activities. The West has long insisted on inspections, and Zarif now seems open to them.

“There may have been technical problems. They may have been problems of transparency, and we are prepared to address those problems,” he said.

Zarif spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Rice spoke to CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” Kerry was interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

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