Iran and world powers to wrap up talks on nuclear deal

Negotiators trying to thrash out historic deal will meet in Vienna for a "final plenary" on Tuesday, EU announces.

    Iran and the world powers have announced they will be wrapping up 18-day negotiations on landmark nuclear deal that is expected to be unveiled soon.

    The European Union spokeswoman, Catherine Ray, wrote on Twitter that "final plenary" would be held between ministers from Iran and six major powers at 0830GMT on Tuesday.

    The meeting is expected to be followed by a press conference were the deal on curbing Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief is believed to be announced.

    The Iranian Students' News Agency reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union's policy chief Federica Mogherini would read a joint statement on Tuesday morning.

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    The ISNA reported that the pair would be accompanied by the six foreign ministers in Vienna.

    Iran and the six nations are hoping to sign a nuclear deal that will bring sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran's atomic programme.

    Earlier, on Monday, the US said that "real progress" had been made during the talks, but that issues remained.

    "They have made genuine progress... but there continues to be some sticking points that remain unresolved," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington.

    "The expectation right now is that the discussions will continue. I am not aware of any plan to take a break."

    Earnest said the US and its partners did not want to rush the final stages of the lengthy talks.

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    Disputes persisted over attempts to probe Iran's alleged work on nuclear weapons, diplomats told the AFP news agency, threatening plans to wrap up an international agreement by midnight - the latest in a series of deadlines for the negotiations.

    Iran's foreign minister talks to Al Jazeera

    The diplomats said at least two other issues still needed final agreement: Iranian demands that a UN arms embargo be lifted and that any UN Security Council resolution approving the broader deal no longer describe Iran's nuclear activities as illegal.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has cautioned that "major issues" remain to be resolved, and comments from both senior Republican and Democrat Senators on Sunday suggested that any final deal would also face tough scrutiny in the US Congress.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday further measures were still needed to overcome the remaining obstacles in the Vienna negotiations, ISNA reported.

    Ali Vaez, from the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera that all of the parties knew what was at stake if they failed to come to an agreement.

    "If either party miscalculates and thinks that the other side is in a position of weakness and is more keen to get an agreement than it is then I'm afraid this process can collapse and if that gamble fails basically, this opportunity is lost," Vaez said.

    "I don't think it can be renewed a few months down the road because not only the parties will lose momentum but a tremendous amount of trust will be lost and that's the biggest asset in the negotiations."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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