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Iran offers last-minute bargaining tactic

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, left, and Hossein Fereydoon, brother and close aide to President Hassan Rouhani, meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Friday. (Associated Press)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, left, and Hossein Fereydoon, brother and close aide to President Hassan Rouhani, meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Friday. (Associated Press)

VIENNA – In an eleventh-hour appeal, Iran’s foreign minister used a video clip Friday to prod the six world powers he is negotiating with to abandon “coercive” tactics and strike a deal over his nation’s nuclear program.

The official, Mohammad Javad Zarif, accused the countries in an English-language video posted on YouTube of bullying Iran during the past two years of bargaining to try to get an agreement unfairly tilted. They were using pressure, he said in the clip, just as they had used “discriminatory and unjust sanctions” to punish Iranians.

Negotiators for Iran and the six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – appear close to completing a deal that would lift economic sanctions on Iran if it accepts limits intended to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear bomb for the next 10 to 15 years. But bargaining has been tough in the past several days as the two sides have maneuvered for last-minute advantage.

The video appeared to be aimed at building more pressure and showing that if talks break down, the fault lies with the United States and other powers, rather than with Iran. It seemed also to be intended to show Zarif’s audience back home that Iran’s negotiating team has been holding strong to try to get the best possible deal.

As Iranian officials have sometimes done in the past, Zarif also promised that if a deal was done, Iran could help the other countries with what he said was the greatest threat facing the Mideast: the Islamic State militant group.

Zarif suggested that the negotiators were extremely near to a deal. The group “has never been closer to a lasting outcome,” he said.

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