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Iran's Rouhani says final nuclear deal 'within reach'

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said a final nuclear deal is "within reach" despite some differences. His comments came after a Russian official said there had been an alarming slowdown in the pace of the talks.

Speaking at a rare press conference on Saturday, Rouhani said key negotiations between Iran and the six-nation group, made up of Russia, the US, China, Britain, France and Germany, is making headway.

Negotiators from Tehran, and those of the P5+1, are meeting in Vienna in a bid to reach a deal that would ensure the strict peaceful nature of Tehran's nuclear program. In exchange, the P5+1 would lift harsh international sanctions.

The Iranian president added, however, there were still "many differences over details."

"The general framework that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants is accepted by the P5+1 group but there are still many differences in the details that must be addressed," Rouhani said, speaking on the second anniversary of his election.

"We are very serious in the negotiations. We do not seek to gain time, but at the same time we are not captives of time. We are not in a hurry but we try to use every opportunity to reach a good deal," Rouhani added.

Parties to the talks face a June 30 deadline for an agreement. The deal will force Iran to curtail its nuclear activities and allow intrusive inspections, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.

'Very worrying' slowdown

On Friday, a senior Russian official commented that there had been a “very worrying” slowdown on the nuclear talks.

"This is very worrying to us because there is very little time before the deadline and we urgently need to enter the final stage," Moscow's chief negotiator, Sergei Ryabkov, said.

Rouhani was critical of Western countries, which he claims permanently "haggle" on the terms of the nuclear agreement.

"In a meeting we come to a framework agreement with the other party buy the next time they start to haggle, causing delays in the negotiation," he added.

The president further added that "several months will pass" from when the deal is signed, until all commitments are implemented, he said, referencing the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States.

The 2012 sanctions target oil and financial sectors of Iran, plunging the country into a deep economic crisis.

The talks, Rouhani added, were "so far a great victory for the Iranian nation."

jlw/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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