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EU extends Iran sanctions freeze to 13 July

The EU has extended a freeze on sanctions to allow for Iran and world powers to continue their talks aimed at striking a historic deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attending a demonstration to mark the Quds (Jerusalem) day (AFP)

The EU extended a freeze on sanctions targeting Iran until Monday, the second such move this month to allow more time for tense talks in Vienna on agreeing a nuclear deal.

"To allow more time for the ongoing negotiations to reach a long term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, the (European) Council has prolonged until 13 July 2015 the suspension of EU restrictive measures," a council statement said.

The EU announced on 30 June - the deadline for an accord in Vienna - that it would prolong the freeze for a week to 7 July as the hugely difficult talks make only slow progress.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States are trying to put nuclear arms out of Iran's reach in return for lifting damaging international sanctions.

Both sides say they want a deal but suspicions run deep and the negotiations have dragged on.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday that progress was "painfully slow ... there are still some issues that have to be resolved."

Hammond said he hoped that over the next 12 hours, experts "will clear some more of the text and then we can re-group tomorrow to see if we can get over the last hurdles."