U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of other major powers joined Iran nuclear talks on Saturday, throwing their weight behind a diplomatic push to complete a deal after envoys reported progress on key issues blocking an interim agreement to curb the Iranian program in return for limited sanctions relief.
Kerry was joining foreign ministers from the five other countries — Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany — that have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program for years. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the talks had reached “the final moment”.
Before leaving Washington, Kerry said he had no particular expectation that an agreement could be reached this week but decided to come after talking with top European Union diplomat Catherine Ashton on Friday.
Germany’s Guido Westerwelle spoke of “a realistic chance, but there is still a lot of work to do.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA-Novosti news agency that negotiations were very close to a breakthrough but “unfortunately I cannot say that there is assurance of achieving this breakthrough.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters he wanted “a deal — but a solid deal — and I am here to work toward that end.”
France’s concern that the negotiators were rushing into a flawed deal with Iran helped delay an agreement during a session nearly two weeks ago.
The ministers rushed to Geneva after diplomats said Friday that Iranian Foreign Minister and Ashton, who is hosting the meeting, had made progress on a key sticking point — Iran’s claim to a right to produce nuclear fuel through uranium enrichment.