US Congress eases pressure
US President Barack Obama won breathing room Tuesday for his nuclear dialogue with Iran, as legislation calling for strict new sanctions against the Islamic republic lost some crucial support in Congress.
Senator Robert Menendez announced that he and several fellow Democrats had assured Obama they would not vote in support of new sanctions prior to March 24, shortly before a negotiations target date.
Ten senators signed on, including eight who co-sponsored the sanctions bill last year.
Under the interim agreement reached in November, representatives of the so-called P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and Tehran gave themselves until March 31 to reach a political agreement -- with a final deal due before July 1.
The Senate will not be in session in the final week of March. Without Democratic support, the Republican Senate majority would be unable to pass the sanctions measure.