Iran’s Top Negotiator says Parties ‘Have Never Been Closer to a Lasting Outcome’

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, left, Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, second left, Special Assistant to Iranian president Hossein Fereydoun, second right, and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi during Iran nuclear talks. | AP Photo
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, left, Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, second left, Special Assistant to Iranian president Hossein Fereydoun, second right, and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi during Iran nuclear talks. | AP Photo

Iran’s foreign minister released a video message Friday as nuclear talks were nearing an end, saying an agreement is at hand and can be reached if the United States and its partners choose cooperation over coercion.

“At this eleventh hour, despite some differences that remain, we have never been closer to a lasting outcome,” said Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat and lead negotiator. “But there is no guarantee. Getting to yes requires the courage to compromise, the self-confidence to be flexible.”

Zarif, standing on the balcony of Vienna’s Coburg Palace, where the talks are underway, spoke in English as music played softly in the background. Delivered on YouTube, his words were apparently an appeal to public and political opinion in the United States, and in the five countries that are its negotiating partners.

“Some stubbornly believe that military and economic coercion can ensure submission,” he said. “I see hope, because I see the emergence of reason over illusion.”

Zarif’s video comes as more than a year and a half of talks are culminating in a frenzied round of sessions aimed at getting Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Zarif and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who has been here for a week, met twice Friday and plan to keep working through the weekend to meet a Tuesday deadline.

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SOURCE: Carol Morello and Karen DeYoung 
The Washington Post

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