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Negotiators Work to Close Iran Nuclear Talks


Source: VOA

The day after agreement
cover of Iranian magazine Seda depicting President Obama next to the iconic Azadi Square in Tehran

Negotiators from Iran and a group of six countries, including the United States, worked Monday to close 18 months of talks and finalize their long-sought comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi expressed hope but said some issues remained and that he could not promise whether a resolution would be reached by the end of the day.

Diplomats had hinted Sunday that the two sides were close to having the complex document ready.

Monday is the latest in a string of deadlines the negotiators have set for themselves, but another Iranian Foreign Ministry official, Alireza Miryousefi, said no one was thinking of extending the talks again.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif waves a document over his head and says "we still have work," on a balcony of the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, July 12, 2015. (photo by Mostafa Ghotbi, Islamic Republic News Agency)


Working toward 'yes'

"Everyone working hard to get to yes today, but political will still required," he said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said conditions are in place for a "good agreement."

"We believe that there cannot and should not be further delays in the negotiations," he said.

Wang and his counterparts from the United States, France, Russia and Germany convened their latest private meeting before midday Monday in Vienna.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was due to join the talks later in the day.

As the meeting began, a reporter asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry if there would be an extension, but Kerry did not answer.

Officials have expressed a mix of progress and caution throughout months of negotiations, including during the past 17 days in Vienna where they went past their original June 30 deadline and a second they set for last Friday.

The Palais Coburg, where Iran nuclear negotiations are taking place, in Vienna, Austria, July 13, 2015
(photo by Mostafa Ghotbi, Islamic Republic News Agency)


Several agreements

The process to address allegations that Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons - charges it denies - has included several smaller agreements along the way, starting with an interim deal in November 2013 that curbed the country's nuclear activity in return for limited sanctions relief.

​The two sides agreed to work on a permanent deal with limits and monitoring on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for comprehensive lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations and by individual countries.

That was supposed to take six months, but the process has dragged on because of debates that included the pace of lifting the sanctions, access inspectors would have to Iranian facilities, and most recently Iran's push to have an arms embargo lifted.

Victoria Macchi contributed to this report from Vienna.

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