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Iran: US Congress Meddling in Nuke Deal

FILE - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran is in talks to reach a final nuclear agreement with six world powers, not with U.S. lawmakers.

Rouhani's remarks on Wednesday were an apparent reaction to developments Tuesday in Washington, where President Barack Obama pledged to sign a bill that would subject the agreement to U.S. congressional review.

In a speech to thousands of Iranians in the northern city of Rasht, Rouhani described tensions between the White House and U.S. Congress as an "internal issue."

"Our partner is not the U.S. Congress or the Senate, our partner is a group called ‘5+1,’" Rouhani said, according to the Associated Press. The group includes the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany.

Rouhani also reiterated his stance that Tehran will not sign a final nuclear deal unless all sanctions are simultaneously lifted.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a measure Tuesday after a bipartisan compromise that calls for a 30-day review period and for the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is living up to the deal curbing its nuclear activity. Sanctions levied by Congress immediately would be reimposed in case of a violation.

Kerry optimistic

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he is confident about reaching a final agreement with Iran, after Obama agreed to sign the congressional measure.

Kerry spoke before a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Germany that was expected to include discussion on the negotiations, which yielded a framework nuclear deal earlier this month.

"We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement, and to do so with the ability to make the world safer," Kerry said.

Speaking in Luebeck, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she is confident that U.S. government officials and lawmakers will understand the agreement is in the security interests of everyone in the region and the world.

She also said it would be necessary to "do a good job" working out the details in the coming weeks on a final nuclear deal with Iran.

On Tuesday, Obama said he would sign a bill now in the U.S. Congress that would subject any final nuclear deal to congressional review with a possible vote to approve or reject the agreement.

The bill now goes before the full House and Senate for approval.

Demanding input

Many Republicans had demanded lawmakers have a voice in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1. But Obama and Kerry cautioned that the move could push Iran away from the negotiations.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday he has personally urged some U.S. senators not to impede the talks with Iran.

He also said it is too early to offer Iran what he called "rewards" in a reference to Russia's decision to lift a ban on delivering an air defense missile system to Iran.

Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.