On 23-24 November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended a series of events that included the foreign ministers of the six mediator countries (the UK, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and France) and Iran, as well as EU representative Catherine Ashton.
They discussed the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme and noted the progress, adding that they had not yet reached the point where a final agreement could be made. They also approved subsequent measures towards an early and comprehensive settlement.
During a coordination meeting of the six nations and a plenary meeting that was attended by the Iranian delegation, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that the sides’ positions on nearly all of the outstanding issues had recently become much closer. The key role in this was played by the Russian proposed principles of phasing and mutuality, which provided a foundation for dialogue, as well as a number of Russian ideas and proposals that were taken into account at the talks. The Russian Foreign Minister expressed confidence in the potential to reach an agreement, given the political will, and urged the participants to continue intensive talks at the political and expert levels in the interests of a settlement. There is no alternative to a political and diplomatic solution.
Comments and answers to reporters’ questions by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the six-party and Iran talk at the level of foreign ministers on the Iranian nuclear programme, Vienna, 24 November 2014
Another round of talks on one of the most challenging problems in contemporary international relations – the settlement of the situation surrounding Iran's nuclear programme – has concluded. These talks have been underway for a long time now, but last year they received a powerful boost when a joint plan of action was agreed upon in Geneva. This plan has been strictly adhered to throughout the year, which allowed us to make significant progress towards a final agreement. This agreement hasn’t yet been reached, but the progress is significant. We agreed to continue the talks. Within the next three to four months, we firmly expect to draft a document that will contain all the basic principles, the implementation of which will then be discussed during technical meetings.
We have another round scheduled in the near future at the level of our deputies – political directors, who have until now done the lion's share of the necessary work to achieve what we have today. All the participants in the six-party talks and Iran's foreign minister are determined to work hard and without pause.
I believe that today's meeting was important, as we identified an important step in a difficult job that – now we know for sure – can lead to a good result.
Question: What will the interaction of the six parties be based on after the Geneva Agreement expires?
Sergey Lavrov: The Geneva Agreement remains in force. It contains principles that no one has ever questioned. Coordinator of the negotiations Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif will tell you about this today.
Question: Has the outcome of the current round in any way been affected by the contacts between certain representatives of the six countries with Israel and Saudi Arabia?
Sergey Lavrov: Which contacts do you mean? I never heard about such contacts.
Question: US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sergey Lavrov: You’d be better off asking John Kerry. We haven’t received any signals from the countries that are not members of the six-party talks over the past few days.
Question: What role can Russia play in bringing together Iran and the West over technical differences?
Sergey Lavrov: Russia is already playing an important role. Progress that has been made a year ago in Geneva and over the course of 2014 and was documented in Vienna today is largely a result of creative technical and political ideas contributed by Russia.