American and Iranian officials will meet in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday for talks before the next round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme. Those negotiations will be held between Iran and six world powers in Vienna later this month.
As the US State Department announced on Saturday, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will lead the American delegation. Burns conducted the secret negotiations that helped bring about the November 24 interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the senior American negotiator with Iran, will also attend.
The meeting comes after the most recent round of talks between Iran and the six powers ran into difficulties in Vienna last month – when both sides accused the other of having unrealistic demands in negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic programme in exchange for an end to sanctions.
Insiders say the US decision to head to Geneva ahead of the next negotiations – scheduled for June 16-20 – suggests Washington’s desire to break the deadlock.
The six-power negotiating group, known as the P5+1, includes Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US. The Vienna talks will be coordinated by Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief.