UK: Iran nuclear talks ‘remain difficult’

Tehran and six world powers appear to be on the verge of a breakthrough in the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program

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The foreign ministers of six world powers are meeting in Geneva to negotiate a deal with Iran over its contentious nuclear program as British Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that negotiations “remain difficult.”

The Iranian envoy, along with British, Chinese, French, German and Russian foreign ministers as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, are meeting to seek an elusive breakthrough in the decade-old dispute.

However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif cautioned that Iran would “definitely oppose excessive demands.”

Hague added that the negotiations were not necessarily drawing to a close.

“They remain very difficult negotiations. I think it is important to stress that we are not here because things are necessarily finished,” Hague told reporters as he arrived in Geneva.

“We are here because they are difficult and they remain difficult,” he said.

The envoys are negotiating on a deal under which Iran would curb its atomic activity in exchange for some relief from economic sanctions.

Echoing optimism that a deal was close, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying the talks “have reached the final moment.” The country’s foreign minister left Beijing for Geneva early on Saturday.

A senior European diplomat told reporters earlier that foreign ministers of the six states would come to Geneva only if there was a deal to sign. “We have made progress, including core issues,” the diplomat said, in statements carried by Reuters.

Diplomats said a compromise over Iran’s insistence that its “right” to enrich uranium be internationally recognized has been proposed, possibly opening the way to a long-sought breakthrough.

The United States and other Western powers say there is no such thing as a right to enrich - a process that can yield both electricity and nuclear bombs - but Iran views it as a matter of national sovereignty and crucial to any deal that would resolve the standoff over its nuclear intentions.

Infographic: Iran's nuclear facilities

Infographic: Iran's nuclear facilities
Infographic: Iran's nuclear facilities

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