Iran urges P5+1 not to miss ‘exceptional opportunity’

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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani urged world powers on Saturday not to miss an “exceptional opportunity” for a nuclear deal with his country.

Rowhani’s statement came as negotiations between Iran and the P5+ 1 continued for the third day in Geneva amid reports that the talks have faced last minutes obstacles over details of the agreement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said if world powers and Iran fail to reach a hoped-for deal on Saturday, a new round of talks will be held in seven or 10 days, Iran’s foreign minister said.

“If we do not reach an agreement tonight, the talks will be resumed in the next seven or 10 days,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency IRNA.

He said there were divisions among the world powers attempting to negotiate what would be a landmark deal with Tehran over its nuclear program.

“We have reached an agreement on some questions, but on others there are still disagreements.... There are differences of opinion within the P5+1 group” of world powers, he was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency ISNA.

Western diplomats in Geneva told Reuters that the nuclear talks will likely end without an agreement.

As discussions stretched on, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was doubtful whether they would soon succeed in nailing down an interim deal that would begin to defuse fears of a stealthy Iranian advance towards nuclear arms capability, according to Reuters.

“As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude,” Fabius said on France Inter radio, stressing that Paris could not accept a “sucker’s deal.”

His pointed remarks hinted at a rift brewing within the Western camp. A Western diplomat close to the negotiations said the French were trying to upstage the other powers.

“The Americans, the EU and the Iranians have been working intensively together for months on this proposal, and this is nothing more than an attempt by Fabius to insert himself into relevance late in the negotiations,” the diplomat told Reuters, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In a further indication that the atmosphere of cordiality that reigned in the first round of talks last month and first two days of discussions this week was dissipating, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, complained to Mehr news agency that his counterparts from the six powers “need constant coordination and consultation in order to determine (their) stances.”

The main sticking points appeared to include calls for a shutdown of an Iranian reactor that could eventually help produce weapons-grade nuclear fuel, the fate of Iran’s stockpile of higher-enriched uranium and the nature and sequencing of relief from economic sanctions sought by Tehran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday there were “some very important issues on the table that are unresolved. It is important for those to be properly, thoroughly addressed.”

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