LAUSANNE – The teams negotiating a nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers were taking a break on Thursday morning after an intense night of talks that failed to break the deadlock.
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and the European Union diplomat Helga Schmidt held deliberations for nine hours overnight Thursday with a short half-hour recess at around 2 A.M. U.S. State Department acting Spokeswoman Marie Harf announced at 7 A.M. Thursday that the negotiation teams will get some rest and meet again in a few hours.
The talks between the representatives of Iran the six world powers – United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – will continue in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday.
Uninterrupted marathon negotiations continued on Wednesday night. “We continue to make progress but have not reached a political understanding," Harf said earlier. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius returned to Lausanne on Wednesday evening to join the talks, after he had left earlier in the day.
U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. negotiating team to ignore the original deadline for midnight March 31 during a secured video conference in Lausanne on Tuesday night, hoping to prevent Iran from pressuring the United State and extorting further concessions, the New York Times reported Thursday. Obama ordered them to make clear that he would order the negotiating team to walk away from the negotiating table and leave all sanctions against Iran in place.
On Wednesday, Zarif told Iranian media that the efforts to find a solution have become extremely difficult. He added that political will is needed in order to make headway, adding that has always been an issue on the powers' side.
On the other hand, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing that even though progress has been made in Lausanne, the U.S. has yet to receive any tangible commitment from the Iranians. If the talks stall, he said, "the U.S. and the international community were prepared to walk away" from the negotiating table.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told German reporters in Lausanne that a breakthrough has not yet been reached. According to Steinmeier, representatives of the world powers have asked the Iranians to bring to the meeting new proposals and ideas with which to find solutions for the remaining differences.
Steinmeier said that talks were expected to last all night, and that he intends to stay in Lausanne at least until morning and perhaps later if necessary. The top German diplomat also said that one of the remaining disputes have to do with the timetable for removing sanctions from Iran, as well as the mechanism that will ensure that if Tehran violates the agreement, United Nations Security Council resolutions would be immediately reinstated.
Steinmeier addressed the criticism of the deal voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he understands Israel's concerns. He did, however, add that it is hard to criticize from afar when one does not know all of the details.