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Kerry to Congress: More Time Needed for Iran Deal

FILE - Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
FILE - Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Top U.S. administration officials led by Secretary of State John Kerry are briefing lawmakers on Capitol Hill in an effort to persuade Congress to give the international community more time to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.

Kerry was expected to hold a closed door briefing with members of the House of Representatives Monday evening, ahead of a similar meeting Tuesday with senators. It is part of an intense lobbying effort by the administration to ward off legislation that would restrict President Barack Obama's ability to suspend or lift sanctions on Iran as part of any final deal.

Congress is considering a bill that would give it 60 days to approve or reject a final accord with Tehran. Obama says such a measure would undermine the final stages of negotiations ahead of a June 30 deadline, and he has threatened a veto.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to debate and begin voting Tuesday on amendments to legislation calling for Congress to have a say on the nuclear agreement.

The president has said he is still “absolutely positive” the framework agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And he added if the final negotiations do not produce a tough enough agreement, the United States can back away from it.

Iran and six world powers reached a framework agreement earlier this month. The U.S. and Iran both have released their own bullet-point interpretations of the deal, since officials said they could not agree on a comprehensive document.

The U.S. government and many of its allies believe Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing a weapon, despite Iran's insistence that the program is for civilian energy purposes.

Kerry will be accompanied by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for this week's meetings on Capitol Hill.

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