Zarif, Kerry Meet as Nuclear Talks Intensify

Zarif, Kerry Meet as  Nuclear Talks IntensifyZarif, Kerry Meet as  Nuclear Talks Intensify

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met his US counterpart John Kerry in Vienna on Saturday to help advance efforts to bridge significant differences on a deal that would lift sanctions in return for Iran accepting some temporary constraints on its nuclear program.

Expressing optimism that the talks would come to fruition, Kerry told reporters before the meeting, "There is still much hard work ahead."

"I think everyone wants to see the deal signed. But some very difficult issues have yet to be addressed," Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

In comments to reporters, Zarif said, "I may not agree (with Kerry) on the (remaining) issues, but I agree that we need to work hard to make progress and move forward."

"We are determined to do everything in our power to make a deal possible. It depends on the numerous matters which we are working on, though."

IRNA also quoted Zarif as telling reporters upon arrival in Vienna, "If the other side is ready to recognize the Iranian nation's rights and… avoid making excessive demands, we will certainly clinch the deal."

He reemphasized that the deadline is not as important to Iran as reaching a "good" deal.

"We have come here in the hope of achieving good results in the coming days," the chief negotiator said, stressing, "Time is not important to us. What matters is a good deal."

Asked to comment about Kerry's remarks that the deal can be reached only if Iran adheres to its commitments under the Lausanne agreement, he said, "We will continue to work on the solutions agreed in Lausanne."

"But what is essential is that the other side accepts the realities on the ground and works based on such realities."

Iran and its international negotiating partners (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) reached a preliminary agreement on April 2 in Lausanne and are now hoping to work out the details of the final accord by the June 30 deadline.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Saturday Iran is not considering an extension of negotiations and is working to meet the target date. However, he did not rule out the possibility of negotiations dragging past the deadline by a few days.

"The extension of talks is not on our agenda yet and we are focused to arrive at a conclusion by the self-imposed deadline…. But the work may need to continue past the deadline only by a few days." ISNA quoted him as telling Al-Alam news network.