June 25, 2019

Kerry and Iranian counterpart meet on nuclear deal, Mideast issues

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in his first meeting with his Iranian counterpart since reaching a nuclear deal, said achieving regional peace was on the agenda.

“We have a lot of issues to talk about,” Kerry said Saturday before his meeting with Javad Zarif in New York during the annual United Nations General Assembly opening.

“I view this week as a major opportunity for any number of countries to play an important role in trying to resolve some of the very difficult issues of the Middle East. We need to achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen, in the region itself.”

One of the principal fears of opponents of the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers was that it would pave the way toward legitimating Iranian influence in the region, particularly in Syria, where it has backed the Assad regime in its repression of an uprising.

Zarif emphasized that the major item on the agenda was implementing the nuclear deal, due to formally kick in on Oct. 18.

“We are going to concentrate in this meeting on the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he said, using the deal’s formal title. “That is the project that we started together, and we hope that by its full implementation – its good-faith implementation – we can vent some of the mistrust that has existed over the past many decades.”