VIENNA -- The foreign ministers of Iran and France departed Vienna on Saturday, just two days before a key deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
Talks under way in the Austrian capital are set to wrap up two years of negotiations over Iran's nuclear work. The United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany seek to cap and monitor Tehran's program for a finite period to ensure it is peaceful— with the consent of Iran, and in exchange for international sanctions relief on its government.
The high-level movements, of Laurent Fabius of France and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, were downplayed by the American delegation. One senior State Department official said they were traveling to consult with their capitals.
Zarif planned his return from Tehran on Sunday, his team said. US Secretary of State John Kerry will remain in Vienna until the talks recess.
And that recess, the US official said, will not come without conclusion: The US will not agree to extend them for a long period, and will not leave Vienna without clarity on the path forward, with or without a deal.
"We're still focused on concluding a comprehensive agreement in this negotiating round," the official said. "No one is talking about a long-term extension."