Washington: The US on Monday said the latest round of talks between the P5+1 countries and Iran over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme have made some "important progress".
"It`s important to recognise that we`ve made some important progress in this round. Iran has come to these talks in a serious manner," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
Following days of intense negotiations in Vienna, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, travelled to the Austrian capital to hold talks with his Iranian counterparts and also from some other nations from the P5+1 countries comprising of the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany
The group and Iran have a self-imposed deadline of July 20 to arrive at an agreement, which officials said they are hopeful to meet.
"July 20 is the true deadline," Earnest said.
"The Iranians have engaged in the comprehensive negotiations in a serious way and demonstrated some flexibility in the context of those negotiations. But on some key issues so far, Iran has yet to be able to make the decisions that are necessary to prove to the world that their nuclear programme is explicitly peaceful," he said.
"That ultimately is where the significant gaps remain. Secretary Kerry is there to, again, assess the seriousness with which the Iranians are pursuing these negotiations, and will return to make recommendations to the president about the way forward," the White House said.
After Kerry concludes his trip, he will make some recommendations to US President Barack Obama regarding next steps, Earnest said.
The Secretary of State travelled to Vienna over this weekend to assess Iran`s willingness to make the critical choices it will need to make if they have a chance of getting a comprehensive agreement and to see if progress can be made on the issues where significant gaps remain between the P-5 plus one and Iran, he said.
"To its credit, Iran has defied the expectations of some by actually fulfilling the obligations under the Joint Plan of Action. The Joint Plan of Action was predicated on Iran taking some steps to roll back their nuclear programme in exchange for some limited relief of their sanctions regime that`s been imposed," Earnest said.
The Congress, he said, is being kept in loop on the issue.
The tough American sanctions imposed by the Congress played a key role in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, Earnest said.