US, Iranian officials to hold nuclear talks

Updated: 2015-01-22 15:06


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US, Iranian officials to hold nuclear talks

US House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) listens as President Barack Obama (L) delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON -- US State Department on Wednesday announced a new round of US-Iranian nuclear talks when the Obama administration is moving ahead on a collision course with a Republican-controlled Congress over Iran sanctions.

US and Iranian officials will hold further talks on Iran's nuclear program on Jan. 23-24 to advance negotiations for a comprehensive deal, said a US State Department statement.

The bilateral discussion would take place in the context of the negotiations between Iran and P5+1 group comprising Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany, the statement added.

The first month of 2015 has so far witnessed a series of bilateral engagements between the two sides. The upcoming talks follow last week's bilateral talks in Geneva. In addition, US Secretary of State John Kerry met twice with his Iranian counterpart last week in Geneva and then Paris.

US negotiators and their Iranian counterparts are to hold a fresh round of talks at a time when the White House and Congress are heading into a deadlock over the passage of a new bill which would impose new sanctions after all parties involved in the current nuclear talks fail to strike a deal beyond the deadline.

So far, US lawmakers have already finished the bill and the Senate intends to vote on it well before the current round of international nuclear talks ends in June.

Meanwhile, Obama has on several public occasions, including in his second-to-last State of the Union speech on Tuesday, vowed to veto any new sanctions bill, warning that such a bill would scuttle talks underway to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon.

During a hearing on the issue Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken called new sanctions "unnecessary" since Iran is already under acute pressure from the application of the existing sanctions regime.

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