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Kerry and Zarif Meet on Nuclear and ISIL, "Separate & Apart" Per US

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- When US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan on September 21, ISIL and the nuclear issue were "separate and apart," according to the US readout.

  A senior US State Department official provided this on background:

"Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif met for over an hour at the Waldorf Astoria today. They met one-on-one first, and then were joined by Deputy Secretary Burns and Under Secretary Sherman on the US side and Deputy FM Araghchi and Deputy FM Ravanchi on the Iranian side. They spent time reviewing the status of the EU-led P5+1 negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. They discussed both the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done. Secretary Kerry noted that this week is an opportunity to make additional progress and stressed that it is our intention to do so. Separate and apart from the nuclear issue, they also discussed the threat posed by ISIL.  Going forward, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Zarif agreed to meet further as needed while in New York this week."

 Back on August 29 the US announced new Iran-related sanctions. It targeted among others banks, including Tajikistan-based Kafolatbank, “owned by Sarmayeh Bank, which was identified as an Iranian financial institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in July 2012.”

    On August 30, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani held a lengthy press conference in Tehran, saying on this that of the P5+1 group the other country whose good will is in doubt is the United States.

  He denounced the sanctions and said it is unclear if he'll go to the UN General Assembly week in New York or to the “environmental meeting” just before it. If not, Foreign Minister Zarif will lead the delegation.

  Journalist Jason Rezaian was asked about, but the question was not answered. The Free UN Coalition for Access believes it should be, as other press freedom questions should not go UNaddressed.

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