"Our goal is to achieve a verifiable agreement that does not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "We've said, obviously, that the window is open for us to pursue this option, to achieve our goal of not allowing Iran to possess a nuclear weapon, and we’re going to aggressively pursue that while the window is open," he said on the eve of the next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) in Geneva.

"But it won't remain open indefinitely," he said, issuing a subtle warning to Iran to accelerate the process to address the concerns of the international community on its nuclear programme. "So we're obviously going into this eyes wide open, but as we've discussed in the past, we need to take advantage of this opportunity to see if, in fact, Iran is serious about addressing the international community’s concerns when it comes to its nuclear weapons program in a way that is verifiable for the United States and the whole international community that's concerned about it," he said.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R Sherman is leading the US delegation for the talks with Iran. Responding to questions on the anti-US protests in Iran, Carney said, "the history of mistrust between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran is deep and it will not be erased overnight."

But what they are doing now is not about trust, he said. "We're engaged in serious and substantive negotiations that offer the possibility that we can stop the advance of Iran’s nuclear program, gain more transparency into their nuclear activities, and negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that resolves the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program," he said.

Carney said that US believes that the vast majority of Iranians would prefer a better relationship with the West and would prefer the benefits of that better relationship with the West, including the economic benefits of rejoining the international community, to the current status quo.

"I think that’s what the elections told us that led in part to this development and this potential breakthrough. We’ll continue to focus on substantive negotiations to help bring about the policy goal that we seek," he said. The State Department said the US is engaged in serious and substantive negotiations.

"Last time when we were in Geneva for the P-5 plus one, we had, again, serious and substantive discussions. We're going back this week, hope we can continue that progress," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.

"Our goal hasn't changed, right? We are squarely focused on stopping the advance of Iran's nuclear program, gaining more transparency into their nuclear activities and negotiating a long-term comprehensive solution to this issue. So obviously it's not easy, but we have an opportunity here and an obligation to see where this diplomatic path might lead because it's all of our preference just be resolved diplomatically," she said.

Harf said the Obama Administration is asking the Congress "pause of a short period of time" the new sanctions on Iran. "What we want is for our sanctions to be lined up with our negotiating strategy. So we have an obligation right now to test this cautiously encouraging tone that we hear out of the new Iranian government," she said.

"Our negotiating team believes it's the best way to take a short pause, to give that diplomacy a chance to play out a little bit because, indeed, it's all of our, and Congress', preference that this be resolved diplomatically," she added. "We wouldn't be at the table where we are today if it hadn't been for the incredibly tough sanctions that certainly the international community, but also Congress, imposed on Iran.”

"So we'll keep having the discussion with them but we very firmly believe that our sanctions strategy needs to be linked up and in sync with our negotiating strategy, that the US needs to speak with one voice when we're sitting down at the table here to try and negotiation, which is going to be a tough diplomatic process," Harf said.

(Agencies)

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