U.S. official: Iran nuclear deal ‘very hard’

World powers and Iran resumed nuclear talks in Geneva on Wednesday

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It would be “very hard” for world powers to reach an initial agreement with Iran over its nuclear program during talks that resumed on Wednesday in Geneva, a senior U.S. administration official said.

“I think we can (get a deal), whether we will, we will have to see because it is hard. It is very hard,” the official told reporters after talks between six world powers and Iran resumed in the Swiss city, Reuters reported.

The official also said that the vast majority of sanctions on Iran would remain in place after any preliminary accord on limiting its disputed nuclear program, and that Washington would “vigorously” implement them.

Iran and world powers ended Wednesday the first session of their nuclear talks less than 10 minutes after they started, diplomats said, according to AFP.

“This was just a brief introductory session,” one diplomat in Geneva said on condition of anonymity. “There will now be bilateral meetings,” the diplomat added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he was hopeful of a positive outcome from the talks.

Putin said after talks in Moscow with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I hope that the talks (between six world powers and Iran) that resumed today in Geneva will produce a result.” He gave no further details.

Netanyahu said he preferred a diplomatic solution but that it needs to be “real.”

“We would all like a diplomatic solution, but it needs to be a real solution,” said Netanyahu, adding that this would involve Iran halting uranium enrichment and centrifuge work in the same way as Syria was allowing its chemical weapons arsenal to be destroyed.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande called on Iran to offer answers in its stand-off with the West over its nuclear program and not make provocative statements.

“Iran must offer answers and not a certain number of provocative statements,” Hollande said after meeting with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Rome, in reaction to comments by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahead of the Geneva talks on Wednesday, Khamenei said he will not allow any “retreat” on its nuclear rights.

“I insist on stabilizing the rights of the Iranian nation, including the nuclear rights,” Khamenei told militiamen of the Basij force in Tehran, in remarks broadcast live on state television.

“I insist on not retreating one step from the rights of the Iranian nation,” he added.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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