Representatives of Iran and six world powers are intensifying talks in Switzerland, as a deadline to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear program looms.
The U.S. Secretary of State, as well as the Chinese,
German, French, and Iranian foreign ministers were in the Swiss resort of
Lausanne on March 29 for the negotiations.
They were joined by senior representatives from Britain
The delegations are working on an initial agreement aimed
at curbing Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange of sanctions relief by a
March 31 deadline.
That accord is meant to pave the way for a final
agreement by the end of June.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council --
Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- plus Germany want to
ensure that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons.
Tehran denies it is secretly developing a nuclear weapon,
saying it only wants to develop civilian nuclear power for domestic needs.
Officials attending the talks reportedly said the parties
had offered mutual compromises in an attempt to break the deadlock.
The AFP and Reuters news agencies quoted unidentified
diplomatic sources as saying Tehran indicated a willingness to slash the number
of its centrifuge machines and sending most of its stockpile of nuclear
They said Western powers were meanwhile considering the
idea of allowing Iran to conduct limited, closely monitored enrichment-related
work for medical purposes.
The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State John
Kerry had cancelled plans to return to the United States for an event honoring
his late Senate colleague Edward Kennedy in order to remain at the talks in
Reports said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, delayed a planned trip
to Kazakhstan in order to focus on the negotiations.
On March 28, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif said in Lausanne that progress had been made.
"I think we can in fact make the necessary progress
to be able to resolve all the issues and start writing them down in a text that
will become the final agreement once it's done," Zarif told reporters
following separate meetings with Fabius and Steinmeier.
Israel, which is not a party to the talks, has again
warned of a nuclear deal with Iran.
Addressing a cabinet meeting on March 29, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said, "this deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears
out all our fears, and even more than that."
Citing advances by Iran-backed Shi'ite rebels in Yemen,
he accused Iran of trying to "conquer the Middle East" while pursuing
"The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous for
humanity and must be stopped," Netanyahu added.