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Kerry denies reports of divisions among big powers at Iran talks

Published: Updated:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denied on Monday reports that major powers were divided at talks with Iran aimed at resolving a dispute about its nuclear program, adding it was the Islamic Republic that could not agree to a proposed deal.

Speaking at a news conference with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi, Kerry said the major powers were “unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians, and the French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal. There was unity, but Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular thing.”

The Secretary of State also said on Monday that Washington was not engaged in a race to complete talks with Iran on its nuclear program and vowed to defend Washington's regional allies against any threats.

He also praised the Syrian opposition's decision to participate in a proposed peace conference as “a big step forward”.

“This is not a race to complete just any agreement,” Kerry said, adding: “Through diplomacy we have an absolute responsibility to pursue an agreement.”

Marathon talks between six major world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - and Iran on Saturday ended without agreement and the sides arranged to meet again on Nov. 20.

While saying that an agreement with Iran was expected within months, Kerry sought to reassure Washington's Arab allies and Israel that his country would not abandon them.

“We will stand up for and defend our allies in this region against any kind of external threat, so this is a strong strategic relationship and I look forward to continuing our important dialogue ... and to strengthening the relationship,” Kerry said.