Kerry says ‘important gaps’ remain in Iran nuclear deal

Kerry said the purpose of these talks was "not just to get any deal, it is to get the right deal"

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program have made progress, but there were still "important gaps" to overcome.

Kerry, who is attending a three-day international investor conference in Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, said the purpose of these talks was "not just to get any deal, it is to get the right deal".

"We made some progress, but there are still some gaps, important gaps."

The Iranian nuclear talks are entering their critical end-game with Kerry due to meet his Iranian counterpart in Switzerland after the Sharm el-Sheikh conference ends.

Six world powers -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- aim by the end of this month to nail down the outline of a deal that would put making a nuclear bomb out of Tehran's reach.

"The deadline is approaching. Time is critical," said Kerry.

"We continue to remain focused on reaching the right deal."

The parties hope to reach a full accord by July 1.

But Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has criticized the negotiations, and is to give a closely watched Iranian New Year's address on March 21.

On Thursday Khamenei said the other side in the talks was "deceitful and stabs in the back," according to Iranian news agency ISNA.

Kerry will travel to the Swiss city of Lausanne Sunday to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Two-state solution for Israel, Palestinians

On the stalled Middle East peace process, Kerry said President Barack Obama is "committed" to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians.

"The position of the United States with respect to our long expressed hope, the Republicans and the Democrats alike (and) many presidents of the last 50 years or more, has always been for peace and President Obama remains committed to a two-state solution," Kerry said.

Kerry said that Obama was "hopeful that whatever choice people of Israel make... (they) will be able to move forward on those efforts".

The top U.S. diplomat said he would not like to comment more on the issue only a few days before an Israeli general election.

Final opinion polls have put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party four seats behind its centre-left rival the Zionist Union for Tuesday's vote.

Palestinians are keen for a change from Netanyahu, hoping for a more suitable partner for future peace talks.

On Friday, Kerry held talks on the peace process with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

The four discussed creating an environment to "push forward the peace process to reach a comprehensive and just peace in the region," Sisi's office said after they met.

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