Foreign ministers from Iran and a group of six world powers were in a familiar position Monday in Vienna, where they gathered for a final push to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program a day before their latest deadline.
The diplomats have expressed a mix of progress and the need to finalize key unresolved issues in their bid to limit Iran's nuclear activity in return for needed sanctions relief.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters late Sunday that "differences remain" and that the two sides are "trying."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier Sunday that while he agrees with Zarif that a deal has never been closer, there are still outstanding issues.
"We are not there yet, I emphasize that," Kerry said.
Kerry and Zarif met multiple times Sunday in talks that followed reported breakthroughs on the pace at which sanctions would be lifted and a U.N. probe into whether Iran's previous nuclear work involved trying to develop weapons.
Sources told VOA that Iran and the group that includes the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany have a tentative agreement on the sanctions issue, but that ministers must still give their approval.
The original deadline for a comprehensive agreement was June 30, but the two sides agreed to extend the talks. The stated deadline is Tuesday, but Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted an Iranian official saying the talks could go to late Wednesday or early Thursday.
Finalizing a deal by Thursday would limit a U.S. congressional review period to 30 days. After that, lawmakers would get up to 60 days to review the agreement and vote on whether to lift sanctions imposed by Congress.
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