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U.S.: Agreement in areas in Iran talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Areas of agreement have emerged between Iran and the major powers in nuclear talks, a top administration official said, and the United States will keep Israel in the loop.

The official, speaking Thursday to reporters in Vienna after the latest round of talks, said the negotiations were “workmanlike.”

“We have begun to see some areas of agreement as well as areas in which we will have to work through very difficult issues,” said the official, who would not specify where the sides had achieved agreement and who was not named in the transcript distributed by the U.S. State Department.

The official said Israel and other allies would be updated on the talks’ progress ahead of the next round of talks to take place again in Vienna on March 17.

“Parts of a group of our delegation will be leaving here and traveling to Israel and then on to Saudi Arabia for both bilateral and GCC consultations,” said the official, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of Arab Gulf states.

“This is part of the consultations that we do with partners and allies around the world,” the official said. “We will also be making phone calls to a variety of other partners around the world, which we do on a regular basis before and after each of these negotiations.”

Israel and Saudi Arabia have been skeptical of the interim agreement that is facilitating the talks, saying that it relieves too much sanctions pressure on Iran in exchange for too little in the way of nuclear rollback.

The talks are aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Separately, the State Department said in a statement Thursday that Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary who led the American side in the talks, is headed to Jerusalem and other capitals from Feb. 21 to 25 to brief leaders on the talks.

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