LONDON, March 22. /TASS/. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Saturday spoke of progress made at talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, but acknowledged that there is still no compromise on some important issues.
"We agreed that substantial progress had been made in key areas although there are still important issues on which no agreement has yet been possible," Hammond said, reading a joint statement after the consultations in London with his counterparts from Germany, France and the United States.
The minister said the signing of the final deal, with a late March deadline, will demand "difficult decisions" of Iran.
Hammond said the meeting in London was constructive and the talks had entered a decisive phase. Next week, the meetings will be resumed jointly with the colleagues from China and Russia and the representatives of Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, he said.
The previous round of the Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne was held during six days - between March 15 and March 20 - with daily consultations between US State Secretary John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Later the political directors of the six world powers (five permanent UN Security Council member-states plus Germany) arrived in Lausanne. It was also reported that the talks could be raised to a ministerial level. This did not happen and the sides agreed to resume talks on March 26.
Both the representatives of Washington and Tehran have repeatedly said that the negotiations in Lausanne were successful. Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said the sides had agreed on 90% of technical issues.
The US presidential administration said however the negotiations had less than a 50% chance of success.
The issue of lifting sanctions against Iran is one of the key stumbling blocks at the negotiations. Tehran demands their full and immediate lifting while Washington first wants to get firm guarantees that the Iranian nuclear programme has absolutely peaceful purposes and this should be confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts.