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Kerry: Gaps Remain in Nuke Talks       11/22 12:57

   U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of "serious gaps" in talks about a 
nuclear deal with Iran, but as Monday's deadline approached his German 
counterpart said Tehran and six world powers have "never been closer" to 
agreement since they started negotiating more than six years ago.

   VIENNA (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of "serious gaps" 
in talks about a nuclear deal with Iran, but as Monday's deadline approached 
his German counterpart said Tehran and six world powers have "never been 
closer" to agreement since they started negotiating more than six years ago.

   German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said Saturday that both 
sides are "still far apart" on certain questions. But he suggested the 
differences are bridgeable, declaring that the talks have reached "a moment of 
truth." Still, he said, success or failure "is still completely open at this 
point."

   Steinmeier spoke after arriving in Vienna to join Kerry's efforts to move 
the talks forward and shortly before meeting with the chief U.S. diplomat.

   High-level comings and goings since Friday also have seen British Foreign 
Secretary Philip Hammond and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stop by for 
talks with Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other 
participants in the negotiations.

   "We're working hard," Kerry said Saturday. "But we ... still have some 
serious gaps."

   Kerry spoke by telephone on Saturday to Arab foreign ministers in the Gulf, 
whose countries fear Iran's potential abilities to make nuclear arms, and with 
his Canadian and Turkish counterparts, the U.S. State Department said.

   Hopes of progress were briefly boosted Friday, with reports that Zarif 
planned to fly to Tehran for additional consultations. That could have meant 
possible progress, suggesting that the Iranians need political approval from 
Tehran to move forward.

   Iranian media initially spoke of a new U.S. initiative that Zarif needed to 
have his superiors approve, but the Iranian diplomat dashed those hopes, saying 
he was staying in Vienna and had "no remarkable offers and ideas to take to 
Tehran."

   Asked about the prospects of an agreement while taking an outside cigarette 
break from a meeting Saturday, Zarif shouted "Inshallah" ("God willing") in 
Farsi.

   The United States --- backed by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany 
--- is seeking a deal that cuts, and puts long-term limits on, Iranian nuclear 
programs that could be used to make weapons. Iran says it does not want such 
arms but is negotiating in the hope of relief from sanctions imposed because of 
its nuclear activities.

   Kerry and Zarif have both emphasized that there has been no discussion about 
extending the talks, if the deadline is not met. However, big differences in 
the negotiations increasingly suggest that both sides could agree to continue 
talking past Monday.


(KA)


 
 
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