Obama 'embarrassed' for Iran letter signatories

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama said he was "embarrassed" for Republicans who signed a controversial letter warning Iran's leaders about reaching a nuclear deal with the White House.

"I am embarrassed for them," Obama said in an interview with Vice media, which is expected to be released Monday.

"For them to address a letter to the Ayatollah who, they claim, is our mortal enemy and their basic argument to them is: don't deal with our president because you can't trust him to follow through on an agreement. It's close to unprecedented."

Forty-seven Senate Republicans - including several potential 2016 presidential candidates - signed the open letter to Iran's supreme leader published earlier this month.

Republicans warned any deal agreed before Obama leaves office in 2017 is "nothing more than an executive agreement between President Barack Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei."

"The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time," they added.

With a March deadline looming, negotiators are furiously working to agree on a deal that would curb Iran's nuclear programme in return for reducing Western sanctions.

A new round of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is due to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 15.