Iran nu­clear talks drag into day eight af­ter all-nighter; en­voys hope­ful of deal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY SIAVOSH GHAZI AND SIMON STURDEE

Weary ne­go­tia­tors hoped Thurs­day to see the light at the end of the tun­nel af­ter talk­ing un­til dawn, but mid­way through an eighth day were still hag­gling over the out­lines of a deal cur­tail­ing Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and Ira­nian coun­ter­part Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif talked through the night, go­ing line by line over their dif­fer­ences in a bid to agree a frame­work for an ac­cord to cut back Iran’s nu­clear am­bi­tions, diplo­mats close to the talks said.

They made “sig­nif­i­cant progress,” but there is no “fi­nal re­sult yet,” Zarif told re­porters early Thurs­day at the Swiss ho­tel host­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions, say­ing he felt “lucky” to have slept for two hours.

As Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier can­celled a planned trip to the Baltics to stay in Lau­sanne, Iran’s nu­clear chief Ali Ak­bar Salehi spoke of “lots of progress” and said that the “sun­set is close.”

But as ne­go­tia­tors from the pow- ers, with­out Iran, af­ter a break held a two-and-a-half hour meet­ing to re­view progress on Thurs­day morn­ing, signs emerged that they were not in fact on the verge of a break­through.

“The con­clu­sion is far from be­ing im­mi­nent,” one West­ern diplo­mat said.

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