International

Setbacks and progress as Iran, six powers meet to end nuclear impasse

LAUSANNE: The foreign ministers of Iran and six world powers met on Monday in a final push for a preliminary nuclear accord less than two days before their deadline as Tehran showed signs of backing away from previous compromise offers.

For days Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have been holding negotiations to break an impasse in negotiations aimed at stopping Tehran having the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb in exchange for an easing of international sanctions that are crippling its economy.

But officials at the talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne cautioned that attempts to reach a framework accord could yet fall apart.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there had been “some progress and some setbacks in the last hours”.

“I can’t rule out that there will be further crises in these negotiations,” he told reporters in Lausanne.

In addition to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Steinmeier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and China’s Wang Yi gathered at a 19th-century hotel overlooking Lake Geneva to try to end the deadlock in the talks.

The ministers met for an hour and then broke of their discussions. They were expected to meet again later on Monday.

Officials said the talks could run at least until the deadline of midnight on Tuesday or beyond. If there was a framework agreement struck in Lausanne, officials said the meeting might relocate to Geneva for a ceremony. -Reuters

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