Zarif: Iran Will Not Enter Nuclear Negotiations That Include Israel

Implementation of Geneva nuclear deal to start by early January, Iranian envoy says.

Iran's foreign minister says his country will not enter nuclear talks with its arch-enemy Israel.

A Friday report by official IRNA news agency quotes Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying "We will not attend a meeting in which the occupying regime participates." Iran refers to Israel as an occupying regime because it controls territories claimed by Palestinians.

The report said Zarif's remarks were in response to possible Israeli participation in talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Last weekend Iran agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program in return for the easing of Western sanctions.

Israel and the West suspect Iran's nuclear program has military dimension, a charge Iran denies.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports militant anti- Israeli groups like Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.

Earlier on Friday Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency said that the implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers is expected to begin in late December or early January.

Under the November 24 interim accord, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Asked when the six-month agreement is to start, Ambassador Reza Najafi told reporters: "We expect that either the end of December or beginning of January we should start implementing the measures agreed by both sides."

The agreement - reached on Sunday in Geneva after more than four days of negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany - was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute.

The deal calls on Iran to limit its nuclear activities in return for a relief in sanctions. If the interim deal holds, the parties will negotiate final-stage agreements to ensure Iran does not build nuclear weapons.