GENEVA - "Any breakthrough depends on the other side", said Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi Wednesday, talking to Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet, and other journalists, as he entered the second day of the Geneva negotiations between Iran and the six powers.
Araqchi spoke to reporters in perfect English and even answered a question from a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent without knowing the identity of the interviewer. Asked if a breakthrough in the Geneva talks may open a new horizon in the Iran-Israel relations, he replied: "It's completely different; it has nothing to do with this negotiation. Any breakthrough in this nuclear issue will open new horizons."
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The Iranian official snuck into the elevator and later came back downstairs, hoping he had dodged journalists lurking for him in the lobby. A correspondent from Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet managed to get to him, introduce herself, and ask him to say a few words to the Israeli media.
He replied with a wide smile before entering his car to go to the talks: "You know I can't do that."
'We made good proposals'
Earlier Wednesday, the official said to journalists: "We made good, balanced and fair proposals yesterday. We're looking forward to hearing from (5+1) for their opinion and estimate of our offer. It's too soon to judge if we've advanced somewhat," he said, "Maybe this afternoon. After we hear from them, we can decide if all is going well."
On Tuesday, Iran presented its proposal with a Power Point presentation, speaking for only an hour – significantly less than Iran's old, long presentation in earlier talks. The Iranians say the responses to their proposal were good.
In complete contrast to all previous negotiations, the Iranians are conducting the Geneva talks in English only, with no need for translators. This as a sign of the "air of compromise" and "smile attack" from the Iranians, which had US and Europe arrive at the negotiation table appeased and ready to settle.
'The minister refused to answer further questions'
"I have a good feeling about it," Araqchi said. "But it's too soon to judge." He said that Iranians believe that "To make an agreement now, we must agree on common goals and first as well as last steps. It's ineffective to only decide on the beginning without having a clear view of the future and the final destination. It's very important to determine common goals."
The minister spoke in response to a question regarding reports of Iran being willing to discuss inspectors to make surprise visits in its territory. The Geneva talks are meant to end Wednesday, and Araqchi has said that the sides will meet again soon.
Following the brief encounter between the official and the Ynet correspondent, the Israeli became the talk of the day in the Islamic Republic. Iranian news agency ISNA published a photo of the two with the headline, "Araqchi refuses to answer questions by Israeli journalist."
"Deputy Foreign Minister Araqchi was stopped by an Israeli journalist as he was leaving his hotel and was asked questions by her," the agency wrote. "When he was about to enter his car, the journalist asked him a question – and he answered her. When he realized it was an Israeli journalist, the minister refused to answer further questions."
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote in a post on his Facebook page that the talks between Iran and the six powers regarding the Iranian nuclear issue will resume in several weeks, in Geneva. "In the time that will pass, the representatives will have time to examine our offer," he wrote. Earlier it was reported that Iran and Britain have agreed to each name a charge d'affaires within two weeks, with the envoys promoting tighter connections between the two countries.
According to news agency IRNA, the new meeting will be held on 7 and 8 November in Geneva.
Lior Zilberstein is Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth's correspondent in Geneva
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