• Kerry, Zarif try to break nuclear talks impasse

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    LAUSANNE: United States Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart met early on Tuesday in Switzerland as they sought to reach an elusive deal in tortuous negotiations over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

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    A March 31 deadline looms for Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif to agree the outlines of an agreement, over the objections of US and Iranian hardliners wary of any deal.

    Should they reach an agreement, which is meant to be then finalized by July, it will aim to bury any prospect that Iran might develop nuclear weapons after more than a decade of rising tensions and threats of war over its atomic program.

    On Monday, after Kerry, Zarif and others met for almost five hours in the lakeside city of Lausanne, a senior US official involved said that it remains uncertain whether the deal can be clinched.

    “Iran still needs to make some very tough and necessary choices to address the significant concerns that remain about its nuclear program,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

    “We’re trying to get there. But quite frankly, we still do not know if we will be able to,” the official said.

    After Monday’s meeting Zarif traveled to and from Brussels—while Kerry went for a bike ride—to meet European foreign ministers and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

    Political directors from the other five powers involved—Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—are expected in Lausanne in the coming days, with some expected to arrive as early as Tuesday.

    AFP

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