Iran and six other countries hammered out plans for discussing how they might defuse a long-running atomic standoff, the Wall Street Journal reports.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the development on Thursday, the last of three days of initial talks on a long-term pact between Tehran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. She — and said the sides have made arrangements for a March 17-20 meeting in Vienna.
The negotiating parties are to hold a high-level gathering roughly once each month for four months, with a July goal for finalizing a long-term resolution to disputes on Iran’s nuclear program, a Western envoy said. Washington and its allies want to address concerns that Iran’s atomic assets could support nuclear-weapons development, and Tehran is pushing to eliminate sanctions that have increasingly crimped the Iranian economy. The Middle Eastern power maintains it has no atomic-arms aspirations.
A high-level U.S. government insider said that “every issue of concern to us is on the table,” including Iran’s ballistic-missile efforts, as well as indications that the nation once conducted studies that could help it weaponize its nuclear program, the New York Times reported.
Ashton, who has represented the “P-5+1” nations in the talks, said next month’s senior-level meeting would be preceded by a gathering of “technical experts” from the negotiating governments, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We have … identified all of the issues we need to address for a comprehensive and final agreement,” the Associated Press quoted her as saying. “It won’t be easy, but we’ve gotten off to a good start.”
One Western diplomat added that Ashton is expected to discuss the next round of planned negotiations during a March 9-10 visit to the Iranian capital.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s top Iran negotiator plans to discuss the dialogue with officials in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said on Thursday. U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is expected to lead the meetings over a five-day period, beginning on Friday.
What We're Following See More »
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”