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Kerry Arrives in Geneva for Iran Nuclear Talks

The U.S. secretary of state has arrived in Switzerland where he is headed into a tough round of negotiations with other world powers trying to reach a deal with Iran about its controversial nuclear program.

John Kerry arrived in Geneva Saturday where he will be joined by the other top foreign diplomats of the group known as the P5+1 amid reports that a landmark deal with Tehran may be near. The top diplomats from Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany are either on their way or already in Geneva for the intense discussions.

Chinese officials said Saturday talks have reached a "final phase."

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has been leading the negotiations with the Iranians. The main sticking points have been to what extent Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium and how much sanctions would be eased.

Iran insists it keeps the right to enrich uranium and denies it wants to build a nuclear weapon. It has offered to suspend parts of its nuclear program and agreed to tighter inspections if the West relaxes sanctions that have devastated its economy.

Under discussion is a first-phase agreement meant to build trust while the two sides work out a more comprehensive deal that would ease Western concerns about Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons.

Iran's news agency IRNA on Friday called the talks "complicated and tough."

So far, the U.S. has said it is prepared to offer what it calls limited and reversible sanctions relief, including unfreezing billions of dollars in Iranian funds overseas. Iran has said it would also like restrictions eased on its oil exports and banking sector.

Former White House official and arms control specialist Gary Samore told VOA's Persian News Network Friday that resolving the nuclear issue is just one part of improving the relationship between the U.S. and Iran. He said the two nations continue to have disagreements on other issues, including Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. lawmakers are threatening to increase sanctions if a deal is not reached. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he is committed to moving forward in December with a bill to impose new measures on Iran if negotiations are not successful.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have been asking key congressional leaders to hold off on any new sanctions against Tehran while the Geneva talks continue.

This is the third round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group.

The latest talks began Wednesday, building on a prior round of negotiations that ended two weeks ago. Analysts say those talks failed in large part because of objections by France.

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