Kerry says prepared to ‘call end’ to Iran talks

Kerry warned: ‘We are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever’

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Thursday that Washington will not wait “forever” and that he was prepared to “call an end” to nuclear talks with Iran if “tough decisions” are not made.

“If the tough decisions don’t get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process,” Kerry told reporters in Vienna, saying that the talks were not “open-ended” but that he would not be “rushed” into a deal.

Two deadlines to reach an accord have already been missed in the talks which have stretched into their 13th day. U.S. lawmakers have also set a midnight Washington deadline to be given a copy of any text to review.

Kerry warned: “We are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever. We also recognize that we shouldn’t get up and leave simply because the clock strikes midnight.”

The negotiating teams were focused on the quality of the deal, Kerry insisted, adding “it would have to stand the test of time.”

However, he insisted “we’re making real progress toward a comprehensive deal” to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite progress “some of the tough issues remain unresolved,” he told reporters outside the luxury hotel in Vienna where the talks are being held.

Warning that “difficult decisions don't become easier over time,” the top U.S. diplomat added: “One way or the other those decisions must be taken very soon.”

The U.S. delegation and their counterparts will “continue to push through on the tough issues and ultimately see whether or not the good deal that we have been working for so hard is possible to achieve.”

The White House on Thursday also said Iran talks can continue as long as there is genuine commitment from Iran, p5+1 partners to resolve issues.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he was prepared to stay at the negotiating table in Vienna “as long as necessary” to clinch a deal with world powers on Tehran's contested nuclear program.

Speaking to reporters from his hotel balcony in the Austrian capital, where talks have stretched into their 13th day, Zarif said he “will stay as long as necessary.”

For France’s foreign minister, nuclear talks between Iran and major powers remain beset with problems but are going in the right direction.

“Things are however going in the right directions. Under the circumstances I have decided to stay tonight and tomorrow,” Laurent Fabius told reporters in Vienna.

“I hope that we are going to manage the final meters but there is still work to do. In a marathon the final 100 meters are the hardest... I repeat that there are good things but that difficult issues remain to be resolved,” he told reporters.

The deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program has to be presented to U.S. lawmakers by early morning Friday Vienna time, otherwise the approval process becomes longer and riskier.

(With agencies)