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Iran nuclear talks run well into overtime

Talks between world powers aimed at reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear program are set to continue. Negotiations will soon extend into a second day beyond the March 31 deadline.

After world leaders meeting in Lausanne to discuss Iran's nuclear program stayed in town an extra day despite a

self-imposed March 31

deadline to continue negotiating, no definitive deal was reached on Wednesday but "progress" was being reported by many of the participants, who deemed it would be worthwhile to continue talks until Thursday. That included US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had left the talks on Wednesday, but returned to continue the negotiations.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the talks a "tough struggle," but said on Wednesday that "tonight there will be new proposals, new recommendations."

Steinmeier's Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, complained of "defective" political will on behalf of his negotiating partners.

"I've always said that an agreement and pressure do not go together; they are mutually exclusive," he said to reporters on Wednesday. "So our friends need to decide whether they want to be with Iran based on respect, or whether they want to continue based on pressure."

Zarif is meeting with representatives from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia) plus Germany. US Secretary of State John Kerry has now postponed his departure from Switzerland for a second time, saying enough progress had been made that it was worth it to keep going.

For the last week, the Security Council ministers and delegates have been trying to reach their aim of preventing Iran from gaining the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb. In exchange, they say they will ease international sanctions, which have badly affected the Middle Eastern nation's economy.

The outline agreement is intended to lay the foundation for a

final settlement of the dispute

by June 30.

mz/gsw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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