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John Kerry in Geneva 370.(Photo by: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse )
Kerry seeks to reassure Israel, says hopes for Iran nuclear deal within months
US secretary of state says Iran walked out on proposed deal in Geneva; says confident agreement would protect Israel.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday Washington was not engaged in a race to complete talks with Iran on its nuclear program and vowed to defend Washington's regional allies against any threats.

Speaking at a news conference with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi, Kerry said the US was "not (in) a race" to complete talks with Iran on its nuclear program.

"This is not a race to complete just any agreement," Kerry said, adding: "Through diplomacy we have an absolute responsibility to pursue an agreement."

Marathon talks between six major world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - and Iran on Saturday ended without agreement and the sides arranged to meet again on Nov. 20.

John Kerry denied on Monday reports that major powers were divided at talks with Iran aimed at resolving a dispute about its nuclear program, adding it was the Islamic Republic that could not agree to a proposed deal.

Kerry added that he was confident such an agreement would protect US ally Israel.

While saying that an agreement with Iran was expected within months, Kerry sought to reassure Washington's Arab allies and Israel that his country would not abandon them.

"We will stand up for and defend our allies in this region against any kind of external threat, so this is a strong strategic relationship and I look forward to continuing our important dialogue ... and to strengthening the relationship," Kerry said.

France's foreign minister said on Monday he was hopeful a deal could be reached with Iran over its nuclear program, although Tehran still had to make an effort on a few points.

"We are not far from an agreement with the Iranians, but we are not there yet," Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio.

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 the talks over the weekend, something 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.

Fabius again said Iran must suspend construction of its Arak heavy-water reactor and halt uranium enrichment to a concentration of 20 percent 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." Fabius said. "If we don't reach an accord it would be a considerable problem in a few months.

Meanwhile, the chief of the UN's nuclear watchdog arrived on Monday to Iran for talks to discuss further cooperation between the Islamic Republic and the agency, Iranian Press TV reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano landed in Tehran for negotiations, which AFP cited him as saying were "independent" to the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva. Staff contributed to this report.
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