Global powers wrestling to hammer out a ground-breaking deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions are moving complex talks into high gear with a “critical” three weeks left for an accord.
The main players – US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – will crisscross the globe ahead of the November 24 deadline seeking to narrow the gaps.
Ashton will first meet in Vienna on November 7 with political directors from the so-called P5+1 grouping – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States as well as Germany – her spokesman Michael Mann said.
She will then fly to Oman to meet with Kerry and Zarif in closed meetings, in the country that first hosted secret talks between old foes Iran and the United States.
Those meetings between the two nations, which still do not have diplomatic ties, are credited with bringing Tehran back to the stop-start negotiations.
Kerry has warned the coming weeks will finally reveal whether the Islamic Republic is truly prepared to make the tough decisions needed to curb its suspect nuclear program and win a lifting of international sanctions.
“We have critical weeks ahead of us,” Kerry told PBS television.
“The stakes for the world are enormous. I hope the Iranians will not get stuck in a tree of their own making, on one demand or another, in order to try to find a way together.
“I’m hopeful, but it’s a very tough negotiation.”