U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has joined a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers, arriving on the gathering’s second day after President Barack Obama agreed to sign legislation giving Congress the right to reject any nuclear deal with Iran.
Mr. Kerry arrived early on Wednesday in the northern German city of Luebeck, where Iran is a major issue at the G-7 meeting. Its host, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said ministers will discuss the situation in the U.S., which has “a certain influence” on whether a deal with Iran can be achieved by a June 30 deadline.
Mr. Kerry made clear at the meeting that he is optimistic that an Iran deal will get through the U.S. Congress, Germany’s Foreign Minister said on Wednesday. “The view is that if you reach an agreement on the basis of the framework, then that is a position that you can push through Congress,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters.
U.S. President Barack Obama agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, bowing to pressure from Republicans and some in his own Democratic party.
Tehran downplays Congress threat
Iran said on Wednesday it would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear programme if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it. The comments by President Hassan Rouhani came the day after U.S. President Barack Obama was forced to give Congress a say in any future accord — including the right of lawmakers to veto the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S. Bolstering the role of a highly assertive Congress injects an element of uncertainty into the crucial final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran, which are aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from sanctions.
“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Mr. Rouhani said in a televised speech in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, echoing remarks made last week by Iran’s most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran,” said Mr. Rouhani, who is widely viewed as a pragmatist.