Kerry, Zarif Discuss Nuclear Deal in NY

September 28, 2015

On September 26, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the implementation of the nuclear deal with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. The meeting in New York City on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly was their first since the agreement was announced in July. Before the meeting, Kerry told reporters that he saw an opportunity for progress on resolving the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts while Zarif said the focus of the meeting would be on the nuclear deal. The next day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham rejected reports about the two discussing regional issues. The following is a transcript of Kerry and Zarif’s remarks to the press before their meeting.

QUESTION: Minister Zarif, could you conceive of cooperating on Syria with the United States if the United States insists on Assad going eventually? And Secretary Kerry, are you going to raise the possibility of prisoner exchange for the U.S. citizens detained in Iran?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, first of all, this is the first time the foreign minister and I have been meeting since Vienna, and I want to congratulate all the work that has been done by everybody to try to continue to move the process and keep it on track.

Secondly, we have a lot of issues to talk about. I’m not going to go into each of them individually right now. But 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. And I think there are opportunities this week through these discussions to make some progress. So I don’t want to predict anything; I don’t want to get specific about what issue may or may not be discussed. We always talk about American citizens with respect to their detainment in any part of the world, and so you can count on the fact that we will have a discussion.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: But we are going to concentrate in this meeting on the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 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. So that is my priority, but the situation in the region, the unfortunate developments in Saudi Arabia over the last week, have been disastrous, and we need to address them. We will address them in the proper (inaudible).