1043 GMT August 16, 2018
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had returned home late Sunday, headed back to Vienna, Austria, which has hosted the latest round of the intensive nuclear discussions between Tehran and its negotiating partners.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), and Hossein Fereydoun, the special assistant to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, are also accompanying Zarif.
Upon his arrival to Vienna, Zarif told media that the Iranian side has the necessary “political will” in the negotiations, adding, “I believe our negotiating partners have recognized the fact that only a balanced and respectable resolution and agreement is sustainable; otherwise, the people of Iran will not accept it.”
"All the officials have said they are ready for... a fair and rational trade-off," Zarif said, saying an agreement was "possible".
"I am here to get a final deal, and I think we can," he told reporters."
Later, the Iranian foreign minister met with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The two top diplomats met at Vienna's Palais Coburg hotel to discuss the latest status of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group –Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany.
In what may be a positive sign, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was also to arrive, as was German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sources said, joining Kerry. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that he would return to Vienna this week.
It was unclear when counterparts from Britain and China might arrive.
Deal within reach
On Monday, US officials expressed confidence a deal is within reach.
“At this point, I would anticipate the negotiations will extend past the deadline,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.
“Our negotiators will remain in Vienna past the deadline in pursuit of a final agreement.”
Earnest declined to handicap the chances of reaching a deal, but said a final agreement "is within our sights."
“I would hesitate to put numbers on it at this point,” he said. “Obviously our negotiators understand the stakes in the negotiations.”