Kerry in Geneva: No Iran Deal Just Yet, Important Gaps Must Be Closed

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GENEVA - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Geneva at around 4 P.M. Friday, to help clinch an interim nuclear deal with Iran and ease a decade-old standoff, with Israel warning they were making an epic mistake.

According to a U.S. State Department official, Kerry was invited to the Geneva talks by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an effort "to help narrow the differences" between Iran and world powers. The official demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Upon arriving in Geneva, Kerry said that Iran and the six world powers have not reached any deal yet. "I want to emphasize there is not an agreement at this point," Kerry told reporters shortly after arriving in Geneva. "I don't think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed."

The top diplomat arrived from Tel Aviv, where he had made a previously-unscheduled visit to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amid tensions between the Israeli and Palestinians over negotiations for a peace agreement.

Following their meeting, Netanyahu held a press conference in which he called upon Kerry not to sign a deal with Iran at this round of talks.

"I call upon the secretary of state not to haste in signing, to wait and weigh it anew," said Netanyahu, adding hat the deal with Iran would be a big win for the Islamic Republic, but a "bad and very dangerous deal for peace and the international community."

Diplomats said a breakthrough at this week's negotiations remained uncertain and would in any case mark only the first step in a long, complex process toward a permanent resolution of Iran's dispute with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

But they said the arrival of Kerry, along with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French and German foreign ministers Laurent Fabius and Guido Westerwelle was a sign that the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany may be closer to an agreement with Iran than ever before.

Kerry was expected to hold a trilateral meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

A senior U.S. State Department official said Kerry was committed to doing "anything he can" to narrow differences with the Islamic Republic. The powers aim to cap Iran's nuclear work to prevent any advance towards a nuclear weapons capability.

Reuters contributed to this report.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he gets into his plane upon his departure from Israel following a private meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 8, 2013.Credit: AFP