File picture shows Israel's then Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (R) being greeted by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Chancellery in Berlin, on December 6, 2012
File picture shows Israel's then Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (R) being greeted by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Chancellery in Berlin, on December 6, 2012 © Johannes Eisele - AFP/File
File picture shows Israel's then Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (R) being greeted by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Chancellery in Berlin, on December 6, 2012
AFP
Last updated: November 27, 2013

Israel minister meets British official on Iran deal

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Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz met Wednesday with Britain's negotiator at the Iranian nuclear talks as part of efforts to influence the shape of a final deal, his office said.

Israel has decried as a "historic mistake" the breakthrough deal reached by world powers and Iran in Geneva on Sunday -- under which Tehran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.

During the meeting in Jerusalem, Britain's chief negotiator Simon Gass and the Israeli officials led by Steinitz "hashed out the existent differences and discussed in great detail" the agreement and the meaning of its clauses, a statement read.

"An initial discussion on the character of the final agreement also commenced during the meeting," it said.

"Despite the differences of opinion, the talks took place in an open and friendly atmosphere."

A spokeswoman for Steinitz said he had also met on Tuesday with France's chief negotiator Jacques Audibert in Jerusalem to discuss the interim deal and the final agreement.

She said the British and French officials arrived in Israel after Steinitz had requested an update on the talks from London and Paris.

Britain and France, along with the United States, Russia, China and Germany, make up the P5+1 group of world powers which negotiated the deal, which they have said is a key step towards reducing the threat of military escalation in the Middle East.

Under the agreement, which is in place for six months while a more long-lasting solution is negotiated, Tehran is committed to limiting uranium enrichment to low levels used only for civilian energy purposes.

In return, it will obtain some $7 billion in sanctions relief in the form of access to frozen funds and to its petrochemical, gold and precious metals and auto sectors.

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, and Israel -- the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power -- has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he would send his national security adviser to Washington for talks on Iran after warning the deal would give Tehran a free hand to achieve a breakout nuclear capability.

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