Obama says Iran talks may need more time

The White House praised Iran’s track record in implementing an interim agreement over the least six months

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U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that talks with Iran on its nuclear program have shown a “credible way forward” and may need to run beyond a Sunday deadline.

“Our team will continue discussions with Iran and our partners as we determine whether additional time is necessary to extend our negotiations,” Obama told reporters.

He also said that Iran had met commitments over the past six months, but there were still significant gaps to be addressed.

The White House on Wednesday also praised Iran for “surprisingly” favorable behavior over the last six months during nuclear talks with Western powers, but it declined to say whether an extension for the talks beyond a July 20 deadline would be granted.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest described Iran’s track record in implementing an interim agreement as “surprisingly favorable,” but said there were are still gaps between Iran and the U.S. and its negotiating partners as they work toward a final accord by a July 20 deadline.

Diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran and the world powers have tentatively decided to extend the talks beyond that deadline. Earnest would not confirm that decision nor did he outline the possible options Obama and Kerry are discussing.

Earnest also said that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are meeting Wednesday to discuss the “path forward” on Iranian nuclear talks.

Meanwhile, Western diplomats told Reuters that an announcement may come as early as Friday if the talks would go beyond the deadline set.

Officials from both sides on Tuesday said it appeared the talks would not yield a breakthrough by the self-imposed target date after two weeks of efforts failed to bridge gaps in positions over a deal intended to end a decade-long dispute.

Several diplomats close to the negotiations in Vienna suggested they expected them to resume in September.

(With Reuters and Associated Press)

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