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Iran says nuclear deal impossible by deadline

world Updated: Nov 24, 2014 01:03 IST

Iran said it will not be possible by a November 24 deadline to reach a comprehensive deal with world powers aimed at resolving the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Sunday.

“Considering the short time left until the deadline and number of issues that needed to be discussed and resolved, it is impossible to reach a final and comprehensive deal by Nov. 24,” ISNA quoted an unnamed member of Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna as saying.

However. as the United States and Iran sought to bridge gaps in negotiations on the eve of a deadline, Iran signalled it was open to extending the talks by up to a year.

US Secretary of State John Kerry went into a fifth round of talks in Vienna with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of Monday’s deadline.

The two key players in the protracted on-off negotiations have been trying since Thursday to secure a deal that would curb Iran’s disputed nuclear activities in exchange for broad relief from punishing international sanctions.

It could end a 12-year standoff that has even raised the prospect of Israeli military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Kerry spoke to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Saturday.

“We’re working hard,” Kerry said Saturday in Vienna.

Kerry was later supposed to meet Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to “update” him on the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Saudi Arabia is a close US ally which is worried about the implications of any deal as Tehran and Riyadh are regional rivals vying for influence in the Middle East.