“We still have a long way to go. Many technical issues remain to be resolved. But we will continue to work hard as the June 30 deadline approaches,” Kerry said during a Saturday joint news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.
“Foreign Minister Wang and I have already spent time discussing some of that today, and I’m personally grateful for his personal commitment and hard work, the contributions they made – China made to Lausanne, to the discussions there and the negotiations, and now to the ongoing discussions,” he said.
“From the moment those talks began, China has been playing an important key role as a P5 member. Our nations remain closely aligned in this effort. We are united along with the rest of our P5+1 and EU partners. We all understand that unity has been the key to getting where we are today, and it will be the key to completing a good deal and seeing it fully implemented.”
The comments came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced optimism over reaching a final deal with the P5+1 group of countries on Tehran’s nuclear program.
If the other side shows “seriousness” in the ongoing negotiations, “an agreement is very likely,” said Zarif in an interview with German magazine Spiegel published on Friday.
The senior Iranian diplomat also lashed out at the Saudi regime for considering the prospective nuclear deal between Tehran and the six world powers as a threat to its security.
There has recently been a "flood of offensive comments from Saudi Arabia,” said Zarif, adding, "Some people in the region seem to have panic" about Iran’s final nuclear deal.
Earlier Friday, representatives from Iran and the P5+1 group held a plenary session on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Austrian capital city of Vienna.
The session finalized four days of talks between the two sides. The next round of negotiations between Iran and the six world powers will reportedly be held next Wednesday.
Iran and the P5+1 countries – the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – have been negotiating to reach a comprehensive agreement over Iran’s civilian nuclear activities, and have set June 30 as the deadline for the conclusion of the deal.
The possible deal would see the removal of the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in return for enhanced transparency by Iran in its nuclear program.
The sides reached a mutual understanding on the parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – as the potential deal is called – in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.
Meanwhile, the Qatari emir said that the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council backs a possible final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
“The [US] president spoke about the … agreement with Iran and I am here to say that the council welcomes this agreement,” said Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama on Thursday, the Guardian reported.
"We hope at the same time that this will be a key factor for stability in the region," the Qatari emir added.
The remarks came at the end of the Camp David summit in Maryland, where the representatives of the six countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – held talks with Obama on a range of issues, including the Iranian nuclear program.
The Russian deputy foreign minister also hailed as “productive” the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group in Vienna.
“We had a very focused, intense and productive exchange,” Sergei Ryabkov told Iran’s Hispan TV on Friday, adding that the talks have shown “constant and sustained progress”.
The Russian official commended efforts by all the sides involved in Iran’s nuclear talks, voicing optimism over reaching an agreement “in time”.
“I think we have proven over recent period that political will is there to resolve even the most difficult issues … What’s most important in my view is that we are getting more confident that we can get there in time,” he stated.
Ryabkov, however, admitted “there are several issues that are still under discussion and consideration,” saying that the parties are trying to find “a common ground or common denominator” to bridge the differences.
The Russian diplomat also praised the diplomatic skill of Iran’s nuclear negotiators.
“We commend the Iranian delegation for their ability to defend and promote the interests of the Islamic Republic. They are very capable negotiators. We learn in some cases from them how to do it,” he pointed out.
Ryabkov also told Interfax that a final agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group is nearing completion and will have annexes as the two sides have wrapped up their latest round of talks in Vienna.
"The text of the agreement [between Iran and the P5+1] is nearing a high degree of readiness," he said.
He added that the general text of the nuclear agreement would have annexes specifying some of its aspects.
"These annexes will cover various fields, that is, they will explain what stands behind more general understandings in each series and will explain what will have to be done in the interests of implementing the understandings and guaranteeing them," the Russian negotiator said.
He noted that Iran and the six global powers managed to make tangible progress in their negotiations but gave no exact date by which the two sides could finish the work on the text of the final agreement.
"I can acknowledge that we are approaching the moment when a consolidated text has come into being, even though with some uncoordinated fragments, but there is a consolidated text, which, as we hope, will eventually become a result, with the relevant brackets removed and solutions found,” Ryabkov said.
“Unlike long periods in the past, we have steady progress now," he pointed out.