Rouhani, Kerry Say 'Progress' Made in Talks

Iran's President says progress has been made in nuclear talks but some differences remain, as March 31 deadline looms.

Elad Benari ,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, on Saturday said that progress made in nuclear talks means a final deal can be reached, the BBC reported.

"There is nothing that cannot be resolved," although some differences still remain, Iranian state media quoted Rouhani as saying.

Rouhani said that in the current round of talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, "shared points of view emerged in some of the areas where there had been a difference of opinion".

They could become "a foundation for a final agreement", he said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The comments come as Iran and six world powers are hard at work trying to turn an interim deal into a permanent agreement. Iran committed in the interim deal to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.

Talks to reach a permanent deal have continuously stalled, however, and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed. Experts say that the new deadline -- March 31 for a framework deal, July 1 for the full deal -- has to be met.

Also on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that "substantial progress" had been made in the talks.

Speaking separately from Rouhani in Lausanne, Kerry said "genuine progress" had been made, although "important gaps" remained.

The United States wanted "a comprehensive and durable agreement... whose implementation is not based on trust, but based on intensive verification", he said, according to the BBC.

Later on Saturday, Kerry travelled to London to meet his counterparts from the UK, Germany and France.

They were to discuss their negotiating position and try to resolve any sticking points before talks continue next week in Switzerland.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said after the talks that the parties agreed substantial progress had been made in the nuclear talks.

Despite the optimism from Rouhani and Kerry, Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, last week played down the chances of reaching a nuclear agreement in the current round of talks, hinting the negotiations will likely have to continue into next week or resume after a break.

Those remarks came after Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, had said "90 percent of the technical issues" have been agreed.