U.S., Iran to Hold Direct Nuclear Talks

The U.S. is sending two senior diplomatic officials to Geneva for rare direct talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and the lead U.S. negotiator with Iran, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, will meet with Iranian officials on Monday and Tuesday.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, said Sunday on Iranian television that Monday's meeting with U.S. officials would also include a top European Union foreign policy delegate Helga Schmidt.  He said discussions would include sanctions the West has placed on Iran for its nuclear program.

International nuclear talks between Iran and the group of six world powers known as the P5+1 are set to resume on June 16. The P5+1 is made up of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany.

The most recent talks last months ran into difficulties, making the upcoming efforts a renewed attempt to find answers and resolve differences.

The international group reached an interim deal with Iran in November that limited Iran's uranium enrichment program in exchange for a partial easing of sanctions.

Officials hope to have a final agreement in place by July 20.

The U.S. and other Western powers have long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran maintains its nuclear aims are peaceful.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

VOA News / Jun. 09, 2014 08:13 KST