VIENNA – Joint efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and three other Western foreign ministers failed Sunday to advance faltering nuclear talks with Iran, with the target date for a deal only a week away.
“There has been no breakthrough today,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague after meetings with Kerry and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Iran.
Tehran says it needs to expand enrichment to make reactor fuel but the U.S. fears Tehran could steer the activity toward manufacturing the core of nuclear missiles. The U.S. wants deep enrichment cuts; Iran wants to greatly expand enrichment.
“There is a huge gap” over enrichment, said Hague, in comments echoed by the other foreign ministers.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left Sunday, a few hours after they arrived.
Kerry and Hague stayed on for another day of diplomacy. Still, the dispute and other differences strongly indicated that six world powers and Tehran will need to continue negotiations until July 20 and could decide to extend their talks past that informal deadline for a deal.
Iraq postpones decision on leaders
BAGHDAD – Iraq’s deadlocked parliament failed Sunday to overcome the deep divisions hampering the formation of a new government, making no progress on choosing new leaders who could help hold the nation together and confront the Sunni militant blitz that has overrun much of the country.
The legislature is under pressure to quickly choose a new speaker of parliament, president and prime minister – the first steps toward a new government.
But just 30 minutes into Sunday’s parliament session, acting speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh announced he was breaking off the proceedings until Tuesday “due to the absence of any agreement on the names of the nominees for the three posts.”
Hopes had been raised that lawmakers might at least vote on a speaker of parliament after Sunni blocs announced late Saturday that they had agreed on a candidate for the post, Salim al-Jubouri. But even that proved difficult, and lawmakers dispersed amid mutual recriminations.
Six killed in battle for airport control
CAIRO – At least six people were killed and 25 injured Sunday when rival militias battled for the control of the international airport in Libya’s capital. Civil aviation authorities announced the airport will be closed for three days over security concerns.
Gunfire from the battles echoed through Tripoli as fierce fighting raged between Libyan forces and allied militias and a powerful militia from the western city of Zintan that controls the airport.
Those living in the vicinity said troops surrounded the airfield and fired rockets at buildings inside. Thick columns of black smoke rose overhead and could be seen from downtown.
Sinai mortar attack leaves eight dead
El-ARISH, Egypt – Militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai fired mortar rounds late Sunday at a military post in the provincial capital of el-Arish, killing a soldier as well as seven civilians, including two children, in a nearby residential complex, security and hospital officials said.
A senior security official said the attack late Sunday hit the military post, killing one soldier. The military post is located near a compound of residential buildings in the al-Salam district.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a supermarket, pharmacy and a residential building also were hit by mortar fire.