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‘Iran nuclear deal possibly by today’

US Secretary of State John Kerry walks on the terrace of Palais Coburg, the venue for nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, yesterday. Photo: PA Wire

US Secretary of State John Kerry walks on the terrace of Palais Coburg, the venue for nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, yesterday. Photo: PA Wire

Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks hope to announce today that they have reached a historic deal capping nearly a decade of diplomacy that would curb the country’s atomic programme in return for sanctions relief, two diplomats said yesterday.

The envoys said a provisional agreement might be reached during the night. But they cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out and a formal agreement must still be reviewed by leaders in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks.

Senior US and Iranian officials suggested, however, there was not enough time to reach a provisional deal by yesterday.

“We are working hard, but a deal tonight is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official said, noting that the agreement will run to roughly 100 pages.

Major issues remain to be resolved

The senior US official declined to speculate as to the timing of any agreement or announcement, saying “major issues remain to be resolved”.

Despite the caution, the negotiators appeared to be on the cusp of an agreement.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Thursday had threatened to walk away from the negotiations, said yesterday that “a few tough things” remain in the way but added “we’re getting to some real decisions”.

En route to Mass at Vienna’s gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” on Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services on Friday.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also was cautiously optimistic, telling reporters yesterday: “I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation.”

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