Iranian nuclear talks to be extended to Nov. 24: Ashton

Photo: Iranian nuclear talks to be extended to Nov. 24: Ashton / Iran

Iranian nuclear talks will be extended for another four months till Nov. 24 as the stakeholders still have "significant gaps on core issues," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said here on Saturday after 16-day lengthy negotiations.

Ashton said this in a joint statement with Iran's Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"We have made tangible progress on some of the issues and have worked together on a text for a joint comprehensive plan of action, there are still significant gaps on some core issues which will require more time and effort," said Ashton, who is leading the talks between Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

Stakeholders of the talks decided to extend the terms of validity of the Geneva interim deal to Nov. 24, before which a final and comprehensive agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program should be achieved.

Iran and the six world powers "reaffirmed that they will continue to implement all their commitments described in the Joint Plan of Action in an efficient and timely manner," Ashton said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this month that if there is not enough progress in the talks by July 20, the U.S. may not allow them to continue.

The six-month interim deal, which took effect on Jan. 20 and would expire on Sunday, was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

Under the interim deal, Iran agreed to suspend some sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanction relief.

Reports said earlier that Iran and the six powers remain far apart on the permissible scope of the Islamic republic's uranium enrichment.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday Iran needs 190,000 separative work units (SWUs) for uranium enrichment, much more than what the West currently wants to allow under a comprehensive agreement.

According to the EU foreign policy chief, the stakeholders will reconvene in the coming weeks.

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