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Iran nuclear talks fail to reach deal

By Agencies In Geneva | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-11 07:32

Parties only agree to hold further negotiations in Geneva on Nov 20

Iran and world powers failed to clinch a long-sought deal on Tehran's nuclear program on Sunday, despite marathon talks in Geneva, but kept hopes alive by agreeing to meet in the Swiss city again on Nov 20.

In Teheran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pleaded for parliament's backing in the negotiations while insisting that Iran would not abandon its nuclear rights, including uranium enrichment.

Diplomats said significant progress had been made in three days of intense negotiations aimed at reaching agreement in the decadelong standoff.

Hopes had soared for an impending deal after top world diplomats rushed to Geneva to join the talks, but faded after cracks began to show among world powers when France raised concerns.

Emerging in the early hours of Sunday from a last-ditch negotiating session, EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the two sides had not been able to come together on a deal.

"A lot of concrete progress has been achieved but some issues remain," Ashton said. "Our objective is to reach a conclusion and that's what we'll come back to try to do."

Zarif said he was not discouraged by the failure of the talks, saying the meetings had taken place in a positive atmosphere and that he hoped to reach an agreement at the next talks.

"I'm not disappointed at all," Zarif said. "We are all on the same wavelength and that's important. ... Actually I think we had a very good, productive three days and it's something we can build on to move forward," he added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was the first to reveal that the deal had failed, pre-empting the official announcement after the talks broke up.

Fabius had earlier raised concerns that the proposal did not go far enough to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had cut short a Middle East tour to join the talks, said "significant progress" had been made.

"There's no question in my mind that we are closer now as we leave Geneva," he said, adding that Washington remained intent on ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

"We came to Geneva determined to make certain that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. That remains our goal," Kerry said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that talks could reach a deal within the next few weeks.

The inconclusive talks had "made a lot of progress", brought all sides closer together and left an agreement within reach, Hague said.

"On the question of will it happen in the next few weeks, there is a good chance of that," Hague told the BBC. "We haven't been wasting our time, but it is a formidably difficult negotiation. It is vital to keep the momentum. ... A deal is on the table and it can be done."

The talks involved the P5+1 group, which includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany.

The draft deal said to be on the table could see Iran freezing parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some of the sanctions that have battered its economy.

Iran nuclear talks fail to reach deal

(China Daily 11/11/2013 page11)

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