Diplomatic Efforts Heightened as Nuclear Deadline Looms

VIENNA (Tasnim) – Top diplomats from Iran and the group of six world powers have stepped up efforts to clinch a lasting deal on Tehran’s peaceful nuclear case by November 24, with more ranking officials expected to join the talks in Vienna.

Diplomatic Efforts Heightened as Nuclear Deadline Looms

A fresh round of talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) that started on Tuesday seems to be reaching its climax as the parties are faced with a looming deadline of November 24.

Diplomats are working to a busy schedule on the cloudy and cold autumn days of Vienna to narrow the differences and break the deadlock in the nuclear talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held a series of different meetings on Friday with European Union envoy Catherine Ashton and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

US and French officials had announced earlier that Kerry and Fabius would return to Paris later on Friday for consultations. But they later said both ministers would stay overnight in the Austrian capital.

“Kerry has delayed his departure (for Paris)... in order to continue consultations” with Zarif, US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said before a meeting between Zarif and Kerry on Friday night.

Iran’s chief negotiator, Zarif, also canceled announced plans to return to Tehran for consultations and exchange of views with high-ranking officials on nuclear talks.

“Since (the nuclear talks in) Muscat up to now, we have proposed different ideas. These ideas have not still reached such a stage to be referred to Tehran by Dr. Zarif. Thus, he will not go to Tehran and the negotiations will continue,” a source close to the Iranian delegation on Friday.

Commenting on the Vienna talks, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday, "These are complex issues and there are still significant gaps between the parties. We're all going away to have technical discussions with our experts and we'll resume again over the ... weekend."

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also announced in a statement, "The sides did not rule out the possibility of holding a ministerial meeting of the parties to the talks on Iran's nuclear program, if the prospect for progress appears.”

With the talks entering their fifth day, media reports suggest that German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and a Chinese delegation will also join the talks on Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected to arrive in Vienna on Sunday.

The talks are asimed at signing a long-awaited deal, meant to end years of Western standoff over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program.

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