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Iran – Bonino meets Zarif: a historic opportunity for agreement on nuclear

“We are faced with a historic opportunity” on the Iranian nuclear dossier. The point was made by Foreign Minister Emma Bonino at the end of her meeting at the Farnesina with her Iranian colleague, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who will be returning to Geneva to take part in the third round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group.

Caution and attention to new signals, says Bonino

Italy is following the new signals emerging on the negotiations“with caution and close attention”, commented Bonino. Our country hopes that the November 11 agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will open “a new chapter that leads to concrete results”. Minister Bonino underscored that important responses to serious problems are created by “cautious dialogue, without ruling out any possible outcomes”. She hoped that the new rounds of talks starting in Geneva on Wednesday 20 November will end with the basis for an agreement that will reassure the international community.

Zarif: agreement in Geneva is possible

Zarif said he was “sure” that agreement can be reached in Geneva, “on condition that both sides negotiate in good faith and with the necessary political will. I’m going to Geneva determined to leave the table with an agreement. I think that will be possible at the end of this round of talks”, he added, reiterating that any agreement reached must be based on mutual respect.“Nobody can dictate a solution, it must be the fruit of a joint effort”. The nuclear question “cannot be resolved in 2-3 meetings; this will be the start of a long process”, explained Zarif.

Syria: a political solution is needed

Ministers Bonino and Zarif also discussed other key international dossiers, such as Syria. Iran “is part of the solution”, declared Bonino, who also underscored the tragic humanitarian solution and reiterated that “the only solution possible is a political, negotiated one”. Zarif commented that “Iran is keenly interested in finding a political solution to the catastrophe unfolding in Syria. Italy has already played a positive role, by opposing any military intervention”.

And the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, which killed 23 people, “only serves to remind us that we must treat the Syrian dossier as a priority”. In that country, “the presence of extremists is a very grave problem and the tensions cannot be contained within Syria’s borders”.

Human rights, Tehran opens dialogue

Iran’s new, more open approach to the dialogue on human rights was also noted by the Italian side. Minister Bonino commented that Tehran is negotiating on the UN Resolution against violence and extremism and that Zarif had confirmed “his hope that the human rights dialogue with the EU is resumed”. She also announced a mission to Tehran by the MFA’s Director General for Political Affairs, Sandro De Bernardin, in late November, and underscored Italy’s keen interest in the moratorium on the death penalty.

Bilateral relations, new opportunities

Turning to bilateral relations, Zarif underlined that “there are no limits to our collaboration for peace and security in our region and in the world”, and at the bilateral level too, “when the problems of recent years are eliminated”. Minister Bonino recalled Italy’s relations with Iran in the fields of archaeology, tourism and culture, and hoped that the air could be cleared in other sectors too, sectors that have become more complicated in the last few years. Such complications apply, most notably, to sectors affected by the international sanctions, which could be lessened if the talks on Iran’s nuclear plans reach a positive outcome.

At the end of the meeting, Foreign Minister Zarif invited Minister Bonino, the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and Prime Minister Letta to Tehran.

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