Demanding Iran's capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with it, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned yesterday.
Kerry's remarks were seen as veiled criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who warned, during his speech at the US Congress, that the P5+1 countries were negotiating a "bad deal" with the Islamic Republic.
Kerry, who wrapped up three days of talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Montreux, Switzerland, said they made some progress and the two would resume talks on 15 March.
Kerry's aides said that there are still many obstacles which need to be overcome before the deadline to reach a framework agreement.
"There are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made," Kerry told reporters following more than 10 hours of talks with Zarif.
During his speech before Congress, Netanyahu warned that Washington was negotiating a "bad deal" with Iran that could spark "a nuclear nightmare" drawing rebuke from President Barack Obama and revealing a deepening rift between the United States and Israel.
Kerry said politics and external factors would not distract him from the talks.
"No one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. So folks; simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan. And nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position."
Kerry sought to address concerns of some Arab countries which fear that any nuclear deal may leave Iran in possession of cash and power to implement its regional agenda, including support for Shia groups in Yemen, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"For all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region, and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections, the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Kerry said.
Zarif told Iran's state-run Press TV: "We are not far from reaching an agreement. There are gaps that need to be filled, serious gaps. But that does not mean that we are not capable of moving forward."