Iranian leaders will meet with representatives of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France on Jan. 18 to hold talks on the Middle Eastern nation’s divisive nuclear program, the European Union confirmed Wednesday. The meetings will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.
The attendants “will continue negotiations in Geneva on 18 January with a view to making further progress towards a long-term comprehensive solution on the nuclear issue,” the EU said in a statement, according to Reuters. “The meeting will be at political directors’ level, chaired by EU Political Director Helga Schmid.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called earlier this month for Iran to end its political isolation, even if it means an end to the country’s uranium-enrichment program, the Los Angeles Times reported. The end of international sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program would allow the nation’s economy to grow, he said.
“Our cause is not linked to a centrifuge. It is connected to our heart and to our willpower … Our political life has shown we can’t have sustainable growth while we are isolated,” Rouhani said.
The conservative wing of Iran’s parliament has been critical of the Rouhani regime’s willingness to negotiate with the six world powers. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came under fire Tuesday over the perception that he was too willing to placate the program’s opponents -- specifically, the U.S. An impromptu vote found that just 125 of the Iranian parliament’s 229 members supported Zarif’s leadership, Agence France-Presse reported.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is meant to develop new sources of energy rather than weapons. A one-year deadline to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program expired in November, prompting calls from U.S. lawmakers to impose renewed sanctions. Officials within the Obama administration worried that new sanctions would vilify the U.S. on an international level or would prompt Iranian leaders' reason to abandon negotiations entirely.
The two sides extended the negotiation window to June but hope to have a preliminary arrangement in place by March. Iran’s supply of enriched uranium and centrifuges remains a major source of dispute.