Race Against Time On Iran Nuke Deal

MUSCAT, Oman (AP) -

The Obama administration is facing its last best chance to curb Iran’s nuclear program — not just to meet an end-of-the-month deadline for a deal, but also to seal one before skeptical Republicans who will control Congress next year are able to scuttle it.

Years of negotiations to limit Tehran’s nuclear production entered the final stretch Sunday as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union senior adviser Catherine Ashton in Oman’s capital. With no immediate agreement in sight, officials said the discussions were expected to continue into Monday.

Despite the urgency to end years of negotiations by a looming Nov. 24 deadline, Secretary of State John Kerry said that there was no linkage between the talks and even an indirect U.S.-Iran partnership to combat the Islamic State group.

He was referring to reports last week, which first surfaced in The Wall Street Journal, describing a recent letter from President Barack Obama to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggesting a shared interest in fighting IS — but which would be largely contingent on Tehran agreeing to the nuclear deal.