Saturday, 28 May, 2016

On the Verge of a Historic Nuclear Deal


A comprehensive deal on the future of Iran’s nuclear programme will be announced as early as Monday after consensus was reached over the weekend on the main outstanding issues, according to western diplomats at the negotiations in Vienna.

Negotiators are on the threshold of finalizing a historic nuclear deal with Iran, diplomats said Sunday as they tried to reach consensus on a few outstanding issues that have caused the talks to drag on past one deadline after another.

Diplomats, however, cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out. Once it is complete, a formal, final agreement would be open to review by officials in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks, they told the The Associated Press.

US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed optimism Sunday about reaching a historic nuclear agreement with Iran, which could be announced as soon as Monday.

After meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Kerry said the two sides had “a few tough things” to resolve but was hopeful a deal could be reached.

“I think we’re getting to some real decisions,” Kerry said.

The State Department said Sunday that “major issues” sill needed to be resolved, but U.S., Iranian and European officials all said talks were down to the final issues and a deal was possible on Monday.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, returned from Moscow to rejoin the negotiations on Sunday evening, and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, was also expected.

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, returned to the UK for unspecified reasons. Diplomats said he was expected back on Monday morning and suggested his departure meant that the main political decisions had been taken as far as the UK was concerned.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said an end to a year and a half of intense negotiations was at hand.

“I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation,” he told reporters outside the Coburg Palace.

Negotiators had hoped to reach a deal by June 30 but postponed the deadline several times because of differences over key issues that included how quickly sanctions would be lifted and a recent demand by Iran that all arms embargoes maintained against it be ended.

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