Iran’s chief diplomat insisted Tuesday he had a mandate to finalize a nuclear agreement despite increased signs of backtracking by his country’s supreme leader, as talks with world powers were set to blow past Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline without a deal. Returning to the negotiations in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the diplomacy had reached a “very sensitive
stage” but that progress was possible. Asked by a reporter about his meetings at home, he said: “I already had a mandate to negotiate and I am here to get a final deal and I think we can.” He then continued his discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Zarif returned with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic agency, who had missed earlier sessions due to illness. Iran’s official news agency called Salehi’s participation an indication of Iran’s desire to accelerate talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was also expected to join the gathering Tuesday.