Sunday 4 December 2016

Iran talks continue past latest deadline in bid for deal

Rebekah Green in Vienna

Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L) meet with foreign ministers of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union in Vienna. Photo: Reuters
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L) meet with foreign ministers of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union in Vienna. Photo: Reuters

Iran and the US and five other major world powers will continue negotiations on a historic nuclear deal beyond yesterday's deadline for a long-term agreement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said yesterday.

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"We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline," Ms Mogherini said.

The deal under discussion between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States is aimed at curbing Tehran's most sensitive nuclear work for a decade or more, in exchange for relief from sanctions that have slashed Iran's oil exports and crippled its economy.

Flexible

"We might see some ministers leaving in the next hours and then ready to come back," Ms Mogherini said.

"We are interpreting in a flexible way our deadline, which means that we are taking the time, the days we still need, to finalise the agreement," she said, adding that there remained several difficult issues to resolve.

Iran said that it had no target date for completing a nuclear deal with world powers.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, said that around eight issues remained to be "finalised" before a nuclear deal between Iran and six powers is reached, Interfax news agency reported.

"We have no deadline," a spokesman for the Iranian delegation in talks with major powers in Vienna said.

The negotiators missed a June 30 deadline for a final agreement and then gave themselves until yesterday.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama pledged to increase support for the moderate opposition in Syria's civil war and said the United States needed to do more at home to prevent attacks and combat Isil efforts to recruit followers.

Mr Obama, speaking at the Pentagon, said the United States would continue to crack down on Isil's illicit finance operations around the world.

It is hoped that Iran would played a significant role in confronting Isil in the event of a deal.

Mr Obama indicated that there are no current plans to send additional US troops overseas, he said, repeating that the fight against the militant group would not be quick.

Mr Obama emphasised, as he has before, that with a strong partner on the ground in Iraq, the United States and its partners would be successful in defeating the militant group.

He said training of such forces had been ramped up after a period that was too slow and that the fall of Ramadi, the capital of the predominately Sunni western Anbar province, had galvanised the Iraqi government.

"More Sunni volunteers are coming forward," he said.

"Some are already being trained and they can be a new force against Isil.

"We continue to accelerate the delivery of critical equipment, including anti-tank weapons, to Iraqi security forces.

"And I have made it clear to my team that we will do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria."

Counter

Mr Obama did not give details. He noted the threat of smaller attacks within the United States and said more needed to be done to prevent Isil from recruiting followers within the US homeland.

"Our efforts to counter violent extremism must not target any one community because of their faith or background, including patriotic Muslim Americans who are our partners in keeping our country safe," he said.

"We also have to acknowledge that Isil has been particularly effective at reaching out to and recruiting vulnerable people around the world, including here in the United States.

"And they are targeting Muslim communities around the world."

Irish Independent

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