US Secretary of State John Kerry canceled plans to fly to Boston for a ceremony in honor of his friend former US senator an Edward Kennedy as talks on Iran’s nuclear program intensified in Switzerland, with two days left to a deadline.
Kerry’s spokeswoman yesterday said he regretted missing the dedication ceremony for an institute named after Kennedy, who was a mentor to him.
Officials close to the talks said the French and German foreign ministers, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, were considering delaying a planned joint trip to Kazakhstan in order to focus on clearing the remaining hurdles to a deal.
Iran denies charges from the West and Israel that it wants to build a nuclear weapon, and says its program is purely peaceful.
The six world powers negotiating with it are seeking a halt to its most sensitive nuclear work.
Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been in Lausanne for days to try to reach a preliminary deal by a self-imposed deadline of tomorrow. They held several rounds of talks on Saturday and met again yesterday morning.
Fabius and Steinmeier joined the talks on Saturday, and their counterparts from China, Britain and Russia were to take part later yesterday.
Close as the sides have come to the outline of an agreement, they still have deep disagreements on Iran’s demands for uranium enrichment research and the immediate removal of all UN and key US and EU sanctions. Those disagreements could wreck a deal, officials say.
Zarif says the six powers are the ones who must compromise.
“In negotiations, both sides must show flexibility,” Zarif said on Twitter. “We have, and are ready to make a good deal for all. We await our counterparts’ readiness.”
Western officials close to the talks said it was up to Iran to compromise on the remaining sticking points.
“The serious, but difficult work continues,” a senior US Department of State official said. “We expect the pace to intensify as we assess if an understanding is possible.”
A key point in the framework accord the sides are trying to agree upon by tomorrow is expected to be the duration of the agreement, which officials from the six-power group said would have to be in place for more than 10 years.
Meanwhile, Israel has kept up its public campaign against a possible nuclear deal with Tehran.
“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet in Jerusalem yesterday.
Netanyahu accused the Islamic republic of trying to “conquer the entire Middle East” while moving toward nuclearization.
“The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity, and must be stopped,” he said.
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