WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Associated Press has learned that the United States and Iran secretly engaged in high-level, face-to-face talks at least three times over the past year.
The high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program.
The discussions were kept hidden even from America's closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago.
Senior Obama administration officials confirmed to the AP details of the extensive outreach. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss by name the highly sensitive diplomatic effort
JERUSALEM (AP) -- A senior Israeli Cabinet minister is criticizing the international deal over Iran's nuclear program.
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program, says there is no reason for the world to be celebrating. He says the deal, reached in Geneva early Sunday, is based on "Iranian deception and self-delusion."
It was the first Israeli reaction to the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to discuss the matter with his Cabinet later Sunday.
Israel believes Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
In recent weeks, Israel had warned the emerging deal would give Iran too much relief from economic sanctions without halting Iran's march toward a nuclear bomb.
GENEVA (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that if Iran's nuclear program is truly just for peaceful purposes, then it simply needs to "prove it" to the world.
Kerry spoke in Geneva after a marathon negotiating session -- lasting about 18 hours -- that culminated with a first-step deal between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S. The deal is designed to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.
Speaking to reporters early Sunday, Kerry also insisted that the first-step deal will make Israel, a key U.S. ally and archenemy of Iran, safer.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has loudly criticized the deal, saying the international community is giving up too much to Iran.
OBAMA-IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says a nuclear deal with Iran is an "important first step" toward addressing the world's concerns over the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear program.
Obama says the deal includes "substantial limitations" on Iran and cuts off the Islamic republic's most likely path to a bomb.
Obama spoke Saturday night shortly after the U.S. and five partners reached an interim nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement was finalized during talks in Geneva that stretched well past midnight.