(AA) – Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said that western powers have a long way to go before they can reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
Hammond told reporters in Brussels ahead of a EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday: “We are closer than we were but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“There are areas where we’ve made progress, areas where we have yet to make any progress.”
The U.S., the U.K., China, France and Russia — plus Germany, also known as the P5+1 group, have claimed Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons and wants its nuclear program curbed in return for the lifting of sanctions, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes.
– ‘Common ground’
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters ahead of Monday’s meeting that all sides needed to find common ground to end the 12-year standoff.
“We are entering a crucial time, a crucial two weeks where negotiations will have to find the common ground for a good deal,” Mogherini said.
Mogherini is set to host the meeting in Brussels attended by German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and his counterparts Laurent Fabius of France, Hammond and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The deadline for any nuclear deal to be finalized is June, but western powers hope for a political framework agreement to be established by the end of March.