John Kerry in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 21, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry emerged from a Massachusetts hospital on crutches Friday afternoon and committed himself to travel for a key deadline in talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
Emphasizing the importance of the deadline, June 30, for world powers to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal, Kerry said he planned to fly to Europe for the final diplomatic push.
His comments came amid reports emerging from Moscow and Tehran that the deadline was soft and may be delayed.
“I will be traveling over there at the appropriate moment in the next days,” Kerry said, adding that he has been “totally” and “fully” engaged with his negotiators on the ground, currently in Vienna, throughout his hospitalization, through secure communications lines.
The secretary said that team is currently working on final, technical annexes of the agreement, which is meant to cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back the Islamic Republic’s vast nuclear program in exchange for phased sanctions relief.
“I’m absolutely driving for the end of the month,” Kerry continued. “I think it’s critical for a lot of different reasons.”
Kerry was hospitalized after breaking his right femur in a bicycle accident while in France last month, after meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in nearby Geneva.
Should the parties fail to reach a deal by July 9, Congress will have double the time to review the deal in its entirety – 60 days instead of 30.
US officials believe, according to one source, that suggestions of a delay amount to a negotiating tactic on the part of Iran and its allies.
Less than three weeks before deadline, US negotiators believe the talks will likely go down to the wire.