State clarifies Kerry blame remarks on Iran

The Obama administration on Tuesday sought to clarify Secretary of State John Kerry's comments that appeared to blame Iran for stalled talks on that country's nuclear program.

A day after Kerry said Iran had walked away from the table, a spokesman for his agency said "fault is immaterial" to the talks. 

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“It's not about blame – this is a challenging, difficult, complicated issue,” said State spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Iran's top diplomat took umbrage at remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry implicitly faulting his country for turning down a deal in Geneva.

We were “unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians, and the French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal,” Kerry said. “There was unity, but Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular thing.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed the French, who were demanding tougher conditions in exchange for loosening sanctions.

“Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of U.S. draft Thursday night? And publicly commented against it Friday morning?” Zarif tweeted Tuesday. “No amount of spinning can change what happened within P5+1 in Geneva from 6 P.M. Thursday to 5:45 P.M. Saturday. But it can further erode confidence.”

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The U.S. and five other nations – Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany – had hoped to strike a preliminary deal last week as a precursor to a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Psaki said Kerry thought it “only natural” that Iranian negotiators would want to go back home and discuss the deal with the country's leaders.

The Obama administration hopes to have another shot at a deal when talks resume on Nov. 20.

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