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Iran

Iran nuclear talk participants eye next meeting with optimism

It took just a few hours on Sunday for the focus of the failed negotiations on an Iranian nuclear deal to shift to the promise of a breakthrough at the next meeting. Israel, however, is not sold on the pending deal.

Iran insists on nuclear rights

Shortly after the participants of the three-day meeting in Geneva praised the progress that had been made toward reaching an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani weighed in on Sunday and said his country wouldn't be pressured into a deal by the international community.

"For us, red lines are not to be crossed," he told the Iranian parliament in remarks quoted by the ISNA news agency. "The rights of the Iranian nation and our national interests are our red lines; and those rights include nuclear rights within the framework of international law, as well as enrichment on Iranian soil."

His comments came despite the general optimism expressed by the meeting's participants that a deal was within reach.

Deal 'on the table'

Earlier on Sunday, the European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton, announced at a press conference in Geneva that negotiations had moved forward.

"A lot of concrete progress has been made, but some differences remain," said Ashton, who is the chief negotiator representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1).

She announced that the next meeting of the P5+1 and Iran would take place on November 20, and said "our objective is to reach a conclusion and that's what we'll come back to try to do."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who appeared with Ashton at the joint press conference, described the negotiations as "a very productive three days. That's something we can build on."

"We are working together and hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement when we meet again," he added.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague supported Zarif's assessment on Sunday in an interview with the BBC.

"A deal is on the table and it can be done," Hague said.

He conceded that any deal would involve compromises that not every government would be satisfied with.

Israel urges caution

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu – whose country was not represented in Geneva – said on Sunday that he would use the time until the next meeting to try and put the brakes on a deal he sees as detrimental to his country's interests.

Netanyahu said he had spoken with US, Russian, French, German and British leaders – all but one (China) of the participants of the Geneva meeting – and "told them that according to the information reaching Israel, the looming agreement [with Iran] is bad and dangerous."

"I hope they reach a good agreement," Netanyahu said, "and we will do all we can to convince world powers to avoid a bad deal."

Israel's economy minister, Maftali Bennett, said on Sunday that he would personally meet with members of the US Congress this week to explain that "Israel's security is in jeopardy."

Israel, widely believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal, believes Iran is determined to use its nuclear program to develop a weapon. Iran insists the program is for peaceful, scientific purposes.

mz/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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