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Iran-U.S. Nuclear Talks Drag Into Second Day as Clock Winds Down

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif holds a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Monday, their second day in unusual top-level talks on the future of Tehran's nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif holds a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Monday, their second day in unusual top-level talks on the future of Tehran's nuclear program. (Jim Bourg/AFP/Getty Images)

A rare U.S.-Iranian nuclear meeting dragged into a second day with less than one week left before a high-stakes deadline, Agence France-Presse reports.

A senior U.S. diplomat said Secretary of State John Kerry would use his discussion with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to "gauge Iran's willingness to make the critical choices it needs to make" on Tehran's nuclear activities. The talks in Vienna continued into Monday as Iran pushed with six other countries to negotiate terms by July 20 to lift sanctions against it while imposing limits on bomb-usable Iranian atomic efforts.

Kerry would "take the time necessary ... to see if progress can be made," a State Department insider said in Monday comments quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Their meeting came after a high-level Obama administration official suggested Iran would have to give ground in the talks in order to extend an interim agreement beyond next Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"It would be hard to contemplate things like an extension without seeing significant progress on key issues," the insider told reporters on Saturday.

On Sunday, though, a senior Iranian envoy reaffirmed Tehran's reluctance to substantially restrict its uranium-enrichment program, which Washington and other capitals fear holds the potential to rapidly produce nuclear-bomb fuel. Iran, however, insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful.

"The enrichment program has been planned with the real needs of the country in mind, meaning our need to ensure reactor fuel," AFP quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying.

Meanwhile, insiders said Iran has moved to launch a system designed to convert low-enriched uranium hexafluoride into material less easily converted into weapons material, Reuters reported on Friday.

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