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In Paris, Kerry Cites Progress on Iran Talks

  • Pamela Dockins

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, right, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at joint press conference, Paris, March 7, 2015.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, right, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at joint press conference, Paris, March 7, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is up to Tehran to show the world and prove that Iran's description of its nuclear program as peaceful is "indeed exactly" that.

Kerry was speaking Saturday in Paris, addressing reporters jointly with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

As he has said before, Kerry reported there has been progress in talks between Iran and the world powers about the country's nuclear program, but that gaps remain. The P5 + 1, the group negotiating with Iran, hopes to reach a "framework agreement" — the outline of an eventual full deal — by the end of this month, and there is a tentative deadline of June 30 for a final agreement acceptable to both sides.

"We have a critical couple of weeks ahead of us," Kerry said.

"We are all mindful that the days are ticking by, but we are not feeling a sense of urgency that we have to get any [possible] deal. We have to get the right deal," he said.

The French foreign minister said negotiators need a "solid agreement" that will provide regional security. Fabius agreed with Kerry that there is still work to do on the framework agreement this month.

The U.S. secretary plans to meet again with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in about a week, when the talks with Iran resume on March 15.

Iran is seeking a deal that will provide relief from crippling economic sanctions imposed as a result of the widespread Western belief that Iran's supposedly peaceful nuclear program conceals secret work on nuclear weapons. The U.S. and its allies seek an agreement that will prevent any nuclear weapons development by Iran.

Kerry and Fabius met Saturday with British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier.

The American and French officials also discussed efforts to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, as well as the unrest in Libya.

After his comments in Paris, Kerry headed back to the United States. His weeklong trip through Europe and the Middle East has focused largely on the nuclear talks with Iran, including several meetings in Montreux, Switzerland, with Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif. Kerry also met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, about the Arab states' concerns about Iran's steadily increasing influence in the region.

The U.S. secretary told reporters in Paris the negotiations with Iran are at a point where “it is, frankly, up to Iran” to respond to the Western side. He emphasized the P5 + 1 members are deeply committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

Kerry said a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran will include intrusive access and verification measures, and block Tehran from acquiring fissile material that could be used to assemble a nuclear warhead.

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