Kerry to brief Obama on Iran talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry will brief President Barack Obama on Iran nuclear talks Wednesday, amid signs that world powers and Tehran will seek to extend deal making beyond a Sunday deadline.

Kerry returned to Washington from the talks in Vienna late Tuesday, and is likely also to discuss any possible US mediation efforts in the conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.

He will meet Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office at 1730 GMT in talks that will be closed to the press.

Kerry said before leaving Vienna that he would discuss with Obama “the prospects for a comprehensive agreement, as well as a path forward if we do not achieve one by the 20th of July, including the question of whether or not more time is warranted.”

He said after two days of talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that there had been “tangible progress on key issues” but “very real gaps” remain.

An interim accord on Iran’s nuclear program was struck in November between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and expires on July 20.

Iran denies seeking the atomic bomb and wants the lifting of crippling UN and Western sanctions.

The six powers want Iran to dramatically reduce in scope its nuclear program for a lengthy period of time and agree to more intrusive UN inspections.

This would greatly expand the time needed for the Islamic republic to develop a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so, while giving the world ample warning of any such “breakout” push.

Iran wants to expand its nuclear facilities, insisting they are for purely peaceful purposes and that it has the perfect right to nuclear activities under international treaties.

While on the road in Europe and Afghanistan, Kerry has conducted intense telephone diplomacy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US allies in the Middle East.

But he opted against an immediate personal mediation mission in the Middle East.

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