GENEVA — Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of other major powers lent their weight to the Iran nuclear talks after envoys reported progress Friday in marathon negotiations to curb the Iranian program in return for limited sanctions relief.
After a third day of talks, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Kerry was en route to Geneva to "help narrow the differences." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Geneva late Friday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced he would also travel to Geneva. A French diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would join the others here.
The announcements followed a day in which diplomats appeared more and more optimistic that a deal could be struck.
As talks adjourned, a diplomat said Iranian Foreign Minister and top European Union diplomat Catherine Ashton had made progress on a key sticking point — Iran's claim to a right to produce nuclear fuel through uranium enrichment
Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi in Geneva as saying that Iran's right to uranium enrichment must be part of any deal.
Enrichment is a hot-button issue because it can be used both to make reactor fuel and to arm nuclear missiles. Iran argues it is enriching only for power, and scientific and medical purposes. And it says it has no interest in nuclear arms.
But Washington and its allies point to Tehran's earlier efforts to hide enrichment and allege it worked on developing such weapons.
Iran has insisted on that right throughout almost a decade of mostly fruitless nuclear negotiations. But Zarif last weekend indicated that Iran is ready to sign a deal that does not expressly state that claim, raising hopes that a deal could be sealed at the current Geneva round.