US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program have made progress, but there were still “important gaps” that remain to be sorted.
Kerry, who is attending a three-day international investors conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, said the purpose of these talks was “not just to get any deal, it is to get the right deal”.
“We made some progress, but there are still some gaps, important gaps.”
Kerry said he can’t say whether the US and other world powers will be able to reach a framework deal with Iran before a March 31 deadline.
Touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry said that the Obama administration remained committed to a two-state solution.
“The position of the United States with respect to our long expressed hope, the Republicans and the Democrats alike (and) many presidents of the last 50 years or more, has always been for peace and President Obama remains committed to a two-state solution,” Kerry said.
Obama, said Kerry, “remains hopeful that whatever choice that people of Israel make [in elections on Tuesday], that there will be an ability to be able to move forward on those efforts.”
Kerry said he needs to speak with Iran’s foreign minister to assess the effects of a letter from Republicans in the US Congress to Iran’s leaders. He will meet with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Switzerland on Sunday for the nuclear talks.
Kerry said the letter undermined the Obama administration’s diplomatic effort.
Kerry also repeated the administration’s stand that it wants the right deal with Iran, not any deal.
Six world powers — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — aim by the end of this month to nail down the outline of a deal that would put making a nuclear bomb out of Tehran’s reach.
“The deadline is approaching. Time is critical,” said Kerry.
The parties hope to reach a full accord by July 1.
But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has criticized the negotiations, and is to give a closely watched Iranian New Year’s address on March 21.
On Thursday Khamenei said the other side in the talks was “deceitful and stabs in the back,” according to Iranian news agency ISNA.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report