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New York May Host Next Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets fellow diplomats last September at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The U.S. city reportedly is slated to host a February meeting on Iran's disputed nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets fellow diplomats last September at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The U.S. city reportedly is slated to host a February meeting on Iran's disputed nuclear program. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Western and Iranian insiders say New York will host a February meeting on Iran's disputed atomic efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the timing and location of the planned talks was settled during discussions he held last week in Davos, Switzerland, with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to Iranian government press reports from Monday.

A Western government insider described "waiting for official announcement, which should be soon," Reuters reported on Monday. The official's comments received backing from a second Western source.

"One of the reasons it's moving to New York is the U.N. infrastructure, similar to Geneva," the speaker added. The Swiss city was the setting for three late-2013 meetings, where Iran ultimately agreed to temporarily freeze some of its nuclear activities in return for limited sanctions relief pledged by six world powers.

In New York, the sides plan to seek a longer-term accord addressing international fears that Iran is pursuing a nuclear-arms capacity through its ostensibly peaceful atomic activities, Western and Iranian government insiders told the Journal.

Washington and the European Union last week moved to start lifting sanctions on Iran, as promised by the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, Reuters quoted U.S. personnel as saying. The six-month interim accord is expected to ease punitive measures targeting Iranian dealings tied to petroleum, rare metals and vehicles.

Iranian state media said the firm National Iranian Tanker now has approval to transfer unrefined oil to China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, Bloomberg reported.

A senior U.S. official, though, on Monday cautioned international firms about pursuing transactions with the Persian Gulf regional power, the Associated Press reported.

"Iran is not open for business," said David Cohen, Treasury Department under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "Businesses interested in engaging in Iran really should hold off. The day may come when Iran is open for business, but the day is not today."

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