VIENNA, June 20 (UPI) -- Negotiators in Vienna, respecting their July 20 deadline, began composing the text of an agreement on Iran's nuclear program, despite admissions they are far apart on key issues.
The deal is designed to limit Iran's nuclear capability from manufacturing nuclear weapons. In return, the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council consisting of the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and China, plus Germany -- would remove economic sanctions on Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said progress in negotiations has been made because "we have started putting everything on paper ... in rather black-and white form." Still, he jokes, the text of the agreement thus far has "more parentheses than words."
At issue are technical matters, such as the number of uranium centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep. It is presumed each country will make its best offer closer to the deadline, a common negotiating ploy in diplomacy.
A unnamed U.S. official at the talks suggested an extended deadline may be needed, if the two sides can resolve the most pressing problems in the agreement, saying, "If we get close and need a few more days, I don't think anybody will mind."
The official added there was some talk about the military offensive in Iraq and its impact on Iranian and U.S. positions at the talks, but said it was casual and not fundamental to the nuclear agreement.
The diplomats are scheduled to meet again on Jul. 2.