Kerry, Ministers to Join Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna: Official

(Reuters) -

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from the six powers negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program will travel to Vienna this weekend to help break the logjam in the talks, a senior Western official said on Thursday.

“I can tell you that Kerry will be in Vienna this weekend, probably on Saturday,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Kerry has scheduled bilateral meetings with fellow ministers on Sunday, he said. Another diplomat confirmed the travel plans.

A French diplomatic source said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would arrive on Sunday for the talks.

Iran and the powers — the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China — aim to reach a long-term deal to end the decade-old nuclear standoff by a July 20 deadline. Many diplomats and analysts believe an extension may be needed in view of the wide gaps in negotiating positions.

Earlier this week, diplomats close to the talks said the ministers may end up negotiating the terms of an extension while in Vienna. The goal is to reach a deal under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.

The talks resumed last week with still no sign of substantive progress on the main sticking points, which include uranium enrichment, the length of any agreement and the speed at which sanctions would be lifted.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday Iran would need to boost its uranium enrichment capacity in the long term, underlining a gap in positions but possibly signalling some flexibility in the short term.