European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif, right, wait for the start of closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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Iran's chief negotiator said Sunday that direct talks agreed between Tehran and Washington are essential, as discussions on his country's disputed nuclear program are entering a "serious phase".The two countries will hold their first full-scale bilateral talks in decades on Monday and Tuesday, an unprecedented move toward securing a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the West. Araqchi said the talks with the US in Geneva will only address the nuclear issue, referring to Iran's ballistic missile programme that Washington had hoped to include in negotiations.The US delegation will be led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Jake Sullivan, a White House adviser, previously part of a tiny team whose months of secret talks in Oman brought Iran back to the P5+1 negotiating table last year.
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