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Secretary of State John Kerry / Joe Klamar, AFP/Getty Images

The United States, its allies and Iran face a key deadline next Sunday -- maybe.

Negotiators are already talking about an extension of the July 20 deadline for a deal in which Iran would forgo the means to make nuclear weapons in exchange for elimination of economic sanctions.

The parties have been operating under a temporary, six-month agreement that took effect Jan. 20.

The Associated Press, reporting from the site of talks this week in Vienna, reports that "deep differences separate the two sides and six world powers and Iran appear set to extend their talks past July 20. That would give more time to negotiate a deal that would limit the scope of such programs in exchange for a full lifting of nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Tehran."

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Vienna, told reporters: "Obviously we have some very significant gaps still, so we need to see if we can make some progress."

Kerry added: "It is vital to make certain that Iran is not going to develop nuclear weapons, that their program is peaceful. That's what we are here trying to achieve."

Iranian officials say their nuclear program is designed for peaceful energy purposes, and they have no interest in nuclear weapons.

Reports the Associated Press:

"Kerry arrived Sunday. Britain and Germany also sent their foreign ministers to Austria's capital for talks over the next few days, as has Iran.

"But the top diplomats from China and Russia are sending lower-ranking officials instead. That may reflect their view that an extension is unavoidable."



Copyright 2014USAToday

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