INTERNATIONAL

Iran, P5+1 meet for first full session

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waits prior to the start of a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday.— PHOTO: AP

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waits prior to the start of a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday.— PHOTO: AP  

Foreign Ministers from major powers raced against the clock on Monday on the eve of a deadline to nail down the final pieces of a framework deal they hope will put any Iranian nuclear bomb out of reach.

Adding to the drama, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was set to leave the crunch talks with Iran in Switzerland and will only return if there is a “realistic” chance of a deal, his spokeswoman said.

Mr. Lavrov and his counterparts from the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany met with the Iranians in a lakeside Lausanne hotel on Monday for their first full session since missing a previous November deadline. They want Iran to scale back its nuclear programme to give the world ample notice of any dash to make the bomb and end a crisis that has threatened to escalate dangerously for 12 years.

The diplomatically isolated Islamic republic denies wanting nuclear weapons and is calling for the lifting of sanctions that have strangled its lifeblood oil exports and its access to the global financial system.



A Western diplomat said on Monday it was “yes or no” time, adding that the talks remained blocked on three major issues — the length of the accord; the lifting of U.N. sanctions; and a mechanism to ensure both sides stick to the deal.

Global powers have set a midnight Tuesday deadline to agree the outlines of a deal that they will then try to finalise by June 30. Only then would Iran receive sanctions relief, diplomats said. — AFP

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