US Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of other major powers were converging Saturday to lend their weight to the Iran nuclear talks after envoys reported progress in marathon negotiations to curb the Iranian program in return for limited sanctions relief.
After a third day of talks, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said late Friday that Kerry was heading to Geneva to "help narrow the differences" – just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he sees a "real opportunity" for the six-party talks with Iran to reach a deal, the Russian foreign ministry said Saturday.
In a statement released after Lavrov spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif in Geneva on Friday evening, the Russian ministry called the meeting "a comprehensive and interested exchange of opinions" about how to end disagreements in the negotiations.
"Lavrov underlined that for the first time in many years, the '5+1' and Iran have a real opportunity to come to agreement," the statement quoted Lavrov as saying at the meeting.
Kerry, who arrived Saturday, said before leaving Washington that he had no particular expectation that an agreement could be reached this week. But after talking with top European Union diplomat Catherine Ashton on Friday, he decided to travel to Geneva to help negotiators narrow their differences.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was the first to arrive Saturday, his plane landing before dawn as the talks neared a final, pivotal stage, telling reporters: "On the Iranian nuclear issue, I want a deal – but a solid deal – and I am here to work toward that end."
Fabius' brief comments conveyed a guarded tone compared to his public comments during the previous round of talks two weeks earlier that fanned talk of disunity among the world powers negotiating with Iran.
French diplomats believe the talks are in the final stretch, but the failure to strike a deal in the last round "taught us to be prudent," said a French official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted publicly on the matter.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced he would also travel to Geneva to join nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, he said in a Twitter message on Friday.
"I will join other E3+3 Foreign Ministers at Geneva Iran talks tomorrow," Hague said in the tweet.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi left Beijing early on Saturday for Geneva to attend talks on Iran's nuclear programme, the Foreign Ministry said.
The brief announcement on the Chinese Forign Ministry's website gave no further details. The announcements followed a day in which diplomats appeared more and more optimistic that a deal could be struck.
AFP, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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