Kerry presses for nuclear deal with Zarif

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) and EU envoy Catherine Ashton pose for photographers before a meeting in Vienna Nov. 20, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) and EU envoy Catherine Ashton pose for photographers before a meeting in Vienna Nov. 20, 2014.

Negotiators at the international nuclear talks in Vienna made no “significant” new proposals regarding Iran’s nuclear program, said the Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif Friday.

“There were important discussions but no significant propositions worth returning to Tehran with,” Agence-France-Press reported Iran’s negotiating team quoting Zarif as saying.

“We have presented different ideas since (a meeting earlier this month) in Muscat. These ideas are not yet at the point for Zarif to be able to take them back to Tehran. As a result he is not going to Tehran and the talks will continue,” a source from Zarif’s team told AFP.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry decided to remain in Vienna to continue the talks with his Iranian counterpart, postponing his earlier plan to pull back from the talks.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. officials said Kerry was heading for Paris to consult with “European counterparts,” leaving the future of the negotiations unclear less than four days before the deadline for a deal.

Despite Kerry’s earlier decision to leave Vienna, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “all the elements” were in place to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, AFP reported.

“All the elements of an agreement are already on the table and the task of diplomats now is to correctly put together a package,” Lavrov told journalists in Moscow after discussing the talks with visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

Lavrov called for the negotiators in Vienna to “show political will” for a balanced outcome that “is not subjected to attempts at the last minute to haggle something beyond what is realistic”.

“I am proceeding from the assumption that in the end common sense and the aim to reach a compromise on this long-standing problem will after all prevail,” Lavrov said. Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a telephone conversation in which they both “emphasized it is necessary to make extra efforts in order to reach concrete agreements within the time limit agreed earlier,” the Russian ministry said in a subsequent statement.

Huge prize

Meanwhile, Britain’s foreign secretary said that Iran has a “huge” amount to gain if it can show sufficient flexibility and agree a nuclear accord with world powers, AFP reported.

“The prize for Iran is huge — access to very large amounts of frozen assets, the ability to trade freely with the world again and the ability to reset relationships with the international community,” Philip Hammond said as he arrived in Vienna to join the talks.

In another development, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged Iran to “seize this opportunity” to reach a final deal on its nuclear program.

“I am here to look for a good agreement which is useful for peace and security … and we hope that Iran will know how to seize this opportunity,” Fabius said after arriving in the Austrian capital for talks between world powers and Iran.

Diplomats said both Fabius and Hammond were leaving the Vienna talks Friday after arriving earlier in the day.

Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China began the final round of negotiations on a nuclear deal on Tuesday. Officials close to the talks have said the two sides are unlikely to secure a final agreement and may need to extend the negotiations.

 
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