U.S. President Barack Obama says there is a "big gap" between Tehran and international negotiators over Iran's nuclear program and that a deal to end a decade-long standoff could be out of reach.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right),EU adviser Catherine Ashton (second left), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (left) and Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi (second right) pose for a photo in Muscat on November 9. (photo by Islamic Republic News Agency
In an interview broadcast on the CBS program "Face the Nation" on November 9, Obama said economic sanctions led by the United States have pushed Iran to the table for negotiations with six global powers on a deal to rein in its nuclear activities.
A final step would involve Iran providing "verifiable, lock tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon," Obama said.
"There's still a big gap," he said. "We may not be able to get there."
Obama made his comments as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union advisor Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have been holding talks in Oman as a deadline for a deal on Iran's nuclear program approaches.
On the eve of the informal talks in Muscat on November 9, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi said his country is eager to reach a deal, and expressed confidence that an agreement can be reached by a November 24 deadline.
Kerry, Ashton, and Zarif appeared briefly for a photo opportunity but made no comments to the press before they headed into their meeting.
A final round of negotiations is scheduled to be held in Vienna on November 18 with representatives from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia due to join U.S. and Iranian officials.
The group is hoping to reach a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against Iran.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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