(Reuters) – World powers and Iran are not discussing extending a late November deadline for reaching an accord over Tehran’s nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, adding there was still time to strike a deal.
However, the State Department official said there were still some significant gaps in negotiating positions on Iran’s uranium enrichment program: “We don’t know if we’ll be able to get to an agreement, we very well may not.”
The official spoke ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Vienna.
“We’re not talking about extension or anything like that in the room. We’re talking about getting this done by the 24th (of November),” the U.S. official said.
Iran and the six major powers aim to end a decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program by reaching a settlement to curb the country’s atomic activities in exchange for a lifting of sanctions hurting its oil-dependent economy.
One of Iran’s chief negotiators, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, last week raised the possibility that the talks could be extended, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said the deadline date was not “sacred”.
But the State Department official said: “There is still time to get this done. There’s enough time to get the technical work done, to get the political agreement … if everybody can make the decisions they need to.”
“We keep chipping away … In places gaps have narrowed, but the Iranians have some fundamental decisions to make.”
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