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Iran

Iran rejects blame for not reaching nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif has hit back at his US counterpart John Kerry, saying Iran was not to blame for the failure to reach agreement on Iran's contentious nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that it was counterproductive to blame Iran for the failure to reach a deal and that it undermined confidence in the negotiations, which are due to resume on November 20.

"Mr.Secretary [John Kerry], was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft Thursday night? and publicly commented against it Friday morning?" Zarif asked on the microblogging websiteTwitter.

Zarif also said "considerable progress" was made during three days of talks in Geneva aimed at ending the stand-off between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear program. Iran claims it is designed for peaceful purposes, Western countries suspect Iran aims to produce nuclear weapons.

Looking for unity

Zarif claimed that most of the hours were spent with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany trying "to resolve differences among themselves."

He said he was still hopeful a deal would be reached, but insisted any agreement must include the lifting of all Western sanctions against Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday in Abu Dhabi that major Western powers were "unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians…but Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular thing."

There had been controversy among Western states when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris could not accept a "fool's game," meaning one-sided concessions to Iran. The negotiations then broke off without agreement.

Upstaged by French?

Diplomats from other Western nations accused the French of trying to upstage the other powers and causing unnecessary trouble.

The talks revolved around a draft interim deal that would cap Iran's capacity to make nuclear fuel and make it more transparent to UN inspectors. In return, Iran is being offered limited relief from economic sanctions imposed on Tehran.

Western nations are determined to stop Iran from acquiring the means to build nuclear weapons, an intent Tehran denies having.

ng/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)