Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, centre, arrives at his hotel in Geneva Switzerland, Friday evening Nov. 8, 2013, following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)
GENEVA (AP) — With a boost from Russia and China, Secretary of State John Kerry mounted a major diplomatic push Friday to reach an interim nuclear deal with Iran, despite fierce opposition from Israel and uncertainty in Congress.
But day-long talks, including a five-hour meeting that brought together Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, failed to resolve differences. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, described the late-night session as “productive” but added, without elaboration, that “we still have lots of work to do” and talks would continue Saturday.
A senior State Department official said “over the course of the evening we continued to make progress” but “there is more work to do.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to characterize the talks.
Kerry and his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany arrived in Geneva with the talks at a critical stage following a full day of negotiations Thursday and said some obstacles remained in the way of any agreement offering sanctions reductions for nuclear concessions.
Word that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a Chinese deputy foreign minister also were headed to the talks provided fresh hope for at least an interim deal, perhaps on Saturday.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted any agreement in the making was a “bad deal” that gave Iran a pass by offering to lift sanctions for cosmetic concessions that Netanyahu said left intact Tehran’s nuclear weapons-making ability.
Asked about Netanyahu’s criticism, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “any critique of the deal is premature” because an agreement has not been reached.