A top Iranian negotiator said a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was productive but that much work remained to reach a deal on the Islamic state's nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Kerry and Ashton held a five-hour meeting in Geneva on Friday evening to try to narrow differences in the search for an agreement to end a decade-old nuclear standoff.
"It was productive but still we have lots of work to do," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters after he arrived back at his hotel in Geneva shortly before midnight (6 pm ET).
"We're working hard," Kerry told journalists after he arrived back at his hotel.
A senior State Department official said the nuclear negotiations between Iran, the US and the EU would resume Saturday morning in Geneva, with possibly the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers joining the talks.
France warned of serious stumbling blocks to a long-sought deal on Iran's nuclear program as foreign ministers from Tehran and six world powers extended high-stakes negotiations into a third day on Saturday to end a decade-old standoff.
Iran's ISNA news agency quoted its deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, in the afternoon as saying "there is greater agreement on some issues and less agreement on other issues" and, barring a sudden convergence, the talks would probably end later in the day and be resumed at a later date.
As the talks stretched on, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there was no certainty they would soon succeed in nailing down an interim deal that would begin to defuse fears of a covert Iranian advance towards nuclear arms capability.
"As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude," Fabius said on France Inter radio, stressing that France could not accept a "sucker's deal".
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says world powers have failed to reach a deal on Iran's nuclear program during Saturday's talks in Geneva, the Associated Press reports.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday that no deal had been reached at international talks in Geneva on Iran's nuclear program.
"The meetings in Geneva have made it possible to move forward, but we have not yet managed to conclude (a deal), because there are still some questions remaining to be dealt with," Fabius said.
"France wanted from the start to reach a deal on this important Iranian nuclear question," he said.
Fabius said there would be further talks and "we hope at that time to be able to conclude an agreement."
World powers to reconvene at political directors level on November 20 in Geneva over Iran.
World powers would lift some of the sanctions they have imposed on Iran if a preliminary deal over its nuclear program could be reached, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday after the latest round of talks ended without agreement.
"An interim agreement would involve offering Iran limited, proportionate sanctions relief," Hague told the British parliament, reiterating that a "deal is on the table ... and can be reached".
Britain wanted an interim agreement with Iran as a first step towards a full deal on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, he added, in an update to lawmakers. Despite reports to the contrary, he said world powers had a united stance in talks with Iran at the weekend and that no one country had vetoed a deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped an agreement on Iran's disputed nuclear program would be signed within months and London and Tehran revived diplomatic ties, signs of a warmer atmosphere between the Islamic Republic and the West.
In a further indication of cooperation, the United Nations nuclear watchdog reached an agreement under which Iran will grant U.N. inspectors access to more nuclear facilities.
Iran and six world powers - the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany - came close to a preliminary nuclear agreement at the weekend during talks in Geneva and decided to resume negotiations on November 20 in their attempt to defuse a decade-old standoff.
"This is not a race to complete just any agreement," Kerry told a news conference during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. However, he added: "Through diplomacy we have an absolute responsibility to pursue an agreement."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday that there would be pressure to intensify sanctions on Iran if it could not reach a deal with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.
But if Tehran could strike a preliminary agreement, world powers would lift some of the sanctions they have imposed on it offering it "limited, proportionate sanctions relief," Hague added, saying he felt there was a real chance of getting a deal.
Hague was speaking after Iran and six world powers, including Britain, came close to a preliminary agreement about Tehran's nuclear program in Geneva at the weekend.
"It's very important for the Iranian authorities to understand that the pressure will be there for greater sanctions, for an intensification of sanctions, unless an agreement is reached on these matters," Hague told parliament.
During his daily press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the P5+1 were unified during talks with Iran and the Iranians did not accept the proposal that was put forward.
"And that's a statement of fact," Carney said.
"It is the responsibility of the president to pursue a diplomatic opening," Carney went on to say of negotiations with Iran.
During her daily briefing, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said negotiations with Iran are an issue where 'we came very close' to making a deal.
The purposes of the Geneva discussions were to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, according to Psaki. America's most serious concerns include Iran stockpiling centrifuges and bringing unprecedented transparency and monitoring to the country's nuclear program, among other issues.
The broad point here is 'diplomacy is hard,' she said, adding that the State Department isn't surprised it has to go back to the negotiating table.
Psaki confirms Secretary of State Kerry will be briefing the Senate Banking Committee on Iran on Wednesday in a closed session.
In regards to Congressional action, Psaki said Kerry is asking for a 'temporary pause' on sanctions.
Sanctions are a big point of discussion in talks with Iranians, but they know the U.S. 'won't touch' the core sanctions, Psaki told reporters during her daily briefing.
The United States puts sanctions in place to hold the regime accountable and to get to 'where we are now,' she said, referencing the ongoing negotiations, adding that is why Secretary Kerry feels the right step is to put a pause on sanctions.
'Putting a pause on sanctions is the right step' and not doing so could hurt negotiations, Psaki said.