U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are meeting for a second day in Switzerland to discuss the status of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Kerry and Zarif met for two hours Tuesday morning in the city of Montreux. A senior State Department official says they are expected to resume talks later in the day.
Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the so-called P 5 + 1, are working against a self-imposed March 31 deadline aimed at finding a framework agreement. Negotiators have until July 1 to reach a final agreement.
The P 5 + 1 is seeking a deal that limits Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and its resources for developing nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear program is peaceful, is seeking relief from international sanctions.
According to Iranian state media reports, Zarif said Tuesday that Iran entered the talks with “ultimate sincerity” but would not yield to the “greedy and illogical demands of the parties involved in the talks.”
The IRNA news agency said Zarif was referring to comments that President Barack Obama made, on Monday.
President Obama told Reuters that Iran needed to commit to a «Verifiable freeze» of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity in order for an agreement to be reached.
In comments to reporters on Monday, Kerry said sanctions alone would not be enough to ease Western concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
“What needs to happen is that Iran needs to provide a verifiable set of commitments that its program is in fact peaceful,” said Kerry.
The prospect of an agreement with Iran has rankled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is poised to speak before a joint meeting of U.S. Congress on Tuesday about threats from Iran.
Netanyahu says that while the United States and Israel agree on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, they disagree on how to reach that goal.