John Kerry tells Iran sanctions will remain in place ahead of renewed nuclear negotiations


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The Independent Online

The foreign ministers of the United States and Iran held rare private talks in Germany on Sunday to discuss the next stage in efforts to reach a definitive agreement to end a decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to talk about nuclear negotiations between six world powers and Iran that will resume in Vienna on 18 February.

The talks will aim to settle the nuclear dispute after Iran agreed, under a landmark preliminary deal last November, to halt its most sensitive nuclear operations in return for winning some relief from sanctions.

In his talks with Zarif, Kerry stressed that the existing US sanctions remained in place.

"Secretary Kerry reiterated the importance of both sides negotiating in good faith and Iran abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action. He also made clear that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions," a US State Department official said.

The United States and European Union suspended some sanctions on Iran under the interim deal, but Kerry made clear to Zarif that the United States will continue to enforce other sanctions.

There was no immediate comment from Iran on the talks.

Kerry and Zarif have met several times since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, was elected last June, leading to a thaw in ties with the West after years of confrontation and hostile rhetoric.