Diplomats from France, China and Russia remain very much in tune with Iran nuclear talks, despite having physically left the negotiating table in Lausanne, Switzerland, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
Earnest spoke just before the Obama administration announced that Secretary of State John Kerry would be remaining for a second day past the March 31 deadline.
“You’d have to ask them about what scheduling matters they had to deal with. The one thing I would observe about the French foreign minister is that his flight to Lausanne is pretty brief,” Earnest said when asked about the three countries. “So it’s much easier for him to go back and forth than it is for my American counterparts who are doing Yeomen’s work over in Switzerland.”
Earnest stressed that this is no sign of disunity among the six nations negotiating with Iran.
“I would not interpret it that way,” Earnest said. “We continue to be in touch with all of our international partners even if they are not represented at the foreign minister level at these talks.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reportedly said “not enough” progress had been made, and he would return “if necessary.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said talks “will have been wasted” if more progress isn’t made. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said foreign ministers actually had reached enough “agreement on all key aspects of a final agreement” to “put down in writing” for a finalized deal in June.
Earnest spent much of the briefing answering questions about why the U.S.-led negotiations to over Iran's nuclear program did not conclude on the March 31 deadline.
“The reason that we are a day past the deadline is because the international community is insisting on a good deal and we are going to drive a hard bargain and we are going to expect Iran to make serious commitments and we will give them the opportunity to do so,” Earnest said. “But if they don’t, we are prepared, along with the international community, to walk away and consider other alternatives.”