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Cautious optimism reigns in Iran nuclear talks

Germany's top diplomat has expressed certainty that a final deal with Iran is only days away. His French counterpart, however, has said an agreement is only possible if Iran allows "an extensive regime of verification."

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Luxembourg on Monday to meet with his French and Iranian counterparts, ahead of the impending deadline to reach an international deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Despite criticism from some US politicians and very clear disapproval from

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

, Steinmeier said he was confident that a deal was imminent "in the next few days" as long as the Iranian government "continues to negotiate constructively."

Steinmeier tempered his optimism with a warning that Iran must avoid "evasive maneuvers on the final stretch."

Germany, France, the US, Britain, China and Russia form the international group that is trying to resolve over a decade of tension with Iran over its decision to enrich uranium, which resulted in painful economic sanctions against Tehran by several world powers.

Iran has insisted from the very beginning that it seeks nuclear power for energy, and not for weapons, but it has received international criticism for the lack of transparency surrounding their nuclear plants.

Iran will not accept 'excessive' demands

The group has a June-30 deadline to make a decision over the reduction of enriched uranium and a rolling back of sanctions, though the speed of both things has provided several stumbling blocks on the rocky road to a final deal.

Speaking to Iranian television, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif said he expected a positive outcome from this week's talks as long as the other powers don't make "excessive" demands. He added that having a "good" deal was more important than "missing the deadline by a few days."

Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France, which has been one of the more cautious nations about the deal, said his government wanted a "robust" deal above all.

"What does that mean? That means an extensive regime of verification, including if necessary,

military sites

and it means that it is necessary to foresee an automatic return to sanctions if Iran violates its commitments," Fabius said after his meeting with Zarif on Monday.

Steinmeier, however, remained upbeat - promising that a comprehensive deal would have an "encouraging impact" that could "radiate" throughout the region.

es/ng (AP, dpa)

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