Iran upbeat as nuke deadline looms
Iran's president yesterday appealed to global leaders including Barack Obama as negotiators raced against the clock to agree the outlines of a deal that puts an Iranian nuclear bomb out of reach.
Hassan Rohani wrote to the American president, US officials confirmed, as well as to the leaders of the five other powers heading efforts to resolve the 12-year standoff over Iran's nuclear programme.
The content of the letters was not known. But Rohani, whose 2013 election led to the current diplomatic push, also phoned the leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France, his office said.
Highlighting the difficulties of talks that resumed in Switzerland yesterday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Rohani also said Iran wants all sanctions lifted.
The six powers negotiating with Iran -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- are however insisting that sanctions will only be suspended, not lifted, to enable them to be quickly put back in place if Tehran violates the deal.
Kerry's talks in Lausanne with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and officials from the powers are aimed at agreeing the outlines of a nuclear deal by March 31 after two missed deadlines in 2014.
A comprehensive deal, meant to be finalised by June 30, would see Iran downsize its nuclear programme to ensure that any covert dash for an atomic weapon would be all but impossible.