VIENNA: Iran and world powers have given themselves seven more months to clinch a landmark nuclear agreement, and defuse a 12-year standoff, after missing a Monday midnight deadline for a deal.
The failure came despite an intensive five-day diplomatic push in the Austrian capital Vienna involving the foreign ministers of Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
But United States Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Vienna, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking in Tehran, said real progress had been made in the talks and raised hopes a deal could eventually be sealed. “This path of negotiation will reach a final agreement,” Rouhani said on state television. “Most of the gaps have been removed,” he added.
In their second extension this year, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5+1, will seek to strike an outline deal by March and to nail down a full technical accord by July 1, officials said.
“These talks aren’t going to suddenly get easier just because we extend them,” Kerry said on Monday as he and other officials conceded the midnight deadline would be missed.
“They are tough. They have been tough and they are going to stay tough,” he told hundreds of journalists crowded into a tent outside the 19th century palace where the talks were held.