World powers close to a deal on Iran nuclear programme

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (above) said on Monday, Nov 11, 2013, world powers were close to a deal with Iran on its disputed nuclear programme, adding Paris had not been "isolated" in Geneva negotiations that failed to reach an accord.
France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (above) said on Monday, Nov 11, 2013, world powers were close to a deal with Iran on its disputed nuclear programme, adding Paris had not been "isolated" in Geneva negotiations that failed to reach an accord. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - France's foreign minister said on Monday world powers were close to a deal with Iran on its disputed nuclear programme, adding Paris had not been "isolated" in Geneva negotiations that failed to reach an accord.

"We are not far from an agreement with the Iranians but we are not there yet," Mr Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio, stressing France had not been "isolated" during talks in Geneva that ended without a deal - blamed by some on French reservations.

Marathon talks between the P5+1 - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - and Iran on Saturday did not end in an agreement. The sides arranged to meet again on Nov 20.

Some diplomats accused France of grandstanding during talks in Geneva at the weekend, something Mr Fabius denied, saying Paris was not isolated but had an independent foreign policy.

"We are firm, but not rigid. We want peace, and we want to reach the end," he said.

Mr Fabius again said Iran must suspend construction of its Arak heavy-water reactor and halt uranium enrichment to a concentration of 20 per cent to win an easing of international sanctions that are strangling its economy, a long-held position by Paris. He declined to go into specific details on what was holding a deal back.

"I am hopeful we will reach a good deal. We want an accord that ensures regional and international stability." Mr Fabius said."If we don't reach an accord it would be a considerable problem in a few months."