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Nuclear talks with Iran may be extended - White House

WASHINGTON, July 17 (KUNA) -- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday confirmed that US and Iranian officials in Vienna have discussed the possibility of extending the six-month talks on the Iranian nuclear issue beyond the Sunday deadline.
"The constructive nature of those conversations has been a surprise to some people who were initially skeptical at the outset," Earnest said, referring to the talks between Iran and the Permanent 5 members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1).
"That skepticism was well founded, but we have had some conversations preliminarily in Vienna with the Iranians about what paths forward could look like, including the possibility of extending the agreement." That has also been the subject of numerous conversations between senior administration officials and members of Congress, Earnest said during a briefing with reporters traveling aboard Air Force One en route to Delaware, where Obama was to give a speech.
Senior Obama administration officials have been in touch with U.S. congressional members and staff every day this week regarding the talks with Iran in Vienna, Earnest said.
"Congress has played a constructive role in passing a sanctions regime against Iran that compelled them to the negotiating table, and around that negotiating table we have seen the Iranians engage in conversations that were constructive," he said. Earnest said he was not at this point prepared to suggest that there has been a path forward chosen yet in the talks with Iran, "but the range of options is being considered by the administration and is included in the discussions with Congress." (end) rm.gb