Secretary of State of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet here Thursday for talks that analysts say could pave the way for warmer U.S.-Iranian relations after a decades-long freeze.
The White House announced Monday that Kerry and Zarif would both attend the P5-plus-1 international talks over the future of Iran’s nuclear program on the sidelines of this week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting.
“That’s the rub. Can Obama, even if he wants to, lift the sanctions the Iranians care about?” said Geneive Abdo, a former journalist who lived in Iran and is now an Iran specialist at the Stimson Center research institute in Washington.
Abdo said Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and ultimate authority in the country, has indicated for months that he’d like to see some sanctions lifted, in particular European Union blocks on petroleum exports that severely cut Iran’s sales and deprived it of hard currency. Abdo said Iran, now forced to barter for goods with other countries, isn’t interested in a deal that doesn’t include major changes in trade restrictions.
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