GENEVA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The two-day closed door meeting here between the United States and Iran failed to iron our their differences over a nuclear deal, raising the likelihood the talks will be extended.
Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) previously agreed to reach a final settlement to their disputes on issues such as Iran's nuclear fuel fabrication capability, transparency of its nuclear program and its ballistic missile program by July 20.
The outcome, however, makes a previous assumption of another six-month extension to the talks more likely.
IRAN: USEFUL TALKS, DIFFERENT IDEAS
"We had a good exchange of views, which was helpful before the next round of (high-level) nuclear talks in Vienna," Iran's chief negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, was quoted as saying by Iran's official IRNA news agency.
But "in spite of a good exchange of views, differences still remain," he said.
Araqchi has previously spoken of a possible half-year extension to the talks, which was agreed last November if no deals were reached by the July deadline.
"The talks were intensive and difficult but were conducted in a positive atmosphere," Araqchi said.
The comment signals a thawing in relations after years of political tension between the two countries in which their leaders and officials have exchanged heated rhetoric.
The Islamic republic and major world powers are preparing for a new round of high-ranking nuclear meetings in Vienna next Monday.
Prior to the meetings, Iranian nuclear negotiators started direct bilateral talks with the representatives of the P5+1 group, hoping to narrow divisions over the country's controversial nuclear program.
"Iran will do its best for a final deal with the P5+1 group," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Tuesday in Turkey's capital of Ankara, reiterating the government's mantra that the country is merely pursuing a "peaceful nuclear energy" program.
U.S.: TOUGH CHOICES REQUIRED
After Monday's first day of talks, Washington said more effort was needed.
"We are at a critical juncture in the talks," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. "We don't have very much time left."
"We think we've made progress during some rounds, but as we said coming out of the last one, we hadn't seen enough made. We hadn't seen enough realism, quite frankly, on the table," she said.
"People need to make tough choices, but we are very focused on that July 20th time," she said.
The views are also split inside the country, where the hawks believe harsher sanctions, rather than the sanctions relief offered by the P5+1 countries, are the key to reaching a settlement.
The four-month-old round of negotiations ran into difficulty last month with each side accusing the other of making unrealistic demands.
Western countries have accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons and demand Iran significantly scale back its nuclear program and subject it to more transparency.
However, Tehran insists it has the right to develop peaceful nuclear programs under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes only.
On Wednesday, Iran will hold nuclear talks with France in Geneva before heading to Rome to talk with Russian officials on Wednesday and Thursday.