Weary negotiators hoped to see the light at the end of the tunnel on Thursday after talking until dawn, but cautioned they were still haggling over the last details to clinch a ground-breaking Iran nuclear deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif talked through the night, going line by line over their differences in a bid to seal the outlines of a framework 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,” said Zarif at the luxury lakeside Lausanne hotel hosting the marathon negotiations for the past eight days.
The six powers “have to examine among themselves the results of the negotiations. We don’t know yet the result of those discussions.”
But a Western diplomat cautioned “the conclusion is far from being imminent.”
And German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier cancelled a planned trip to the Baltics to stay at the talks in Switzerland.
In a sign that eight days of negotiations may be drawing to a close, Zarif said he and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini would make a “joint declaration” to the press if everyone was in agreement.
“But the text still has to be worked on,” he said.
After 18 months of intense negotiations, the six world powers and Iran are hoping to pin down the main contours of a deal to put a nuclear bomb out of Iran’s reach.
The aim is to turn this into a comprehensive accord backed by specific technical commitments by June 30 when an interim deal struck in November 2013 expires.
After just a few hours sleep, the six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — were back at the negotiating table.
The stakes were very high, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, adding that at issue was the question of non- proliferation, and “Iran’s reintegration into the international community.”