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Kerry, Zarif spoke last week after fresh Iran-related sanctions
Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, delivers an address to students at the University of Tehran in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, delivers an address to students at the University of Tehran in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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WASHINGTON: The U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers last week discussed the importance of carrying out the Nov. 24 Iran nuclear deal after Washington blacklisted 19 companies, people and vessels for dealing with Tehran, a U.S. official said Monday.

The U.S. sanctions, imposed under existing U.S. law, drew criticism from Iranian officials and raised questions about the Nov. 24 agreement under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

“They discussed the importance of moving forward” on carrying out the agreement “and of maintaining a constructive atmosphere as the negotiations continue,” the U.S. official said. “The conversation was focused on the way forward.”

Under the Nov. 24 agreement, the United States committed not to impose new sanctions on Iran. U.S. officials said they had not violated the deal in blacklisting the companies, vessels and individuals under existing law and that their commitment under the deal referred to not imposing sanctions under new laws.

The U.S. State Department said it told Iranian negotiators during talks before the deal that it would enforce existing sanctions laws and gave Iranian officials a general advance warning about last week’s blacklisting action.

Some Iranian officials, however, argued that the United States had violated the spirit of the deal, which is designed to provide time to try to negotiate a comprehensive agreement.

The U.S. State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by phone from his aircraft as the chief U.S. diplomat flew from Israel to Vietnam.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 17, 2013, on page 9.
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