TIME Greece

Greece Gets Sunday Deadline to Stave Off Collapse

Alexis Tsipras
Thanassis Stavrakis—AP Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves Maximos Mansion in Athens, Monday, July 6, 2015

BRUSSELS (AP) — Frustrated and angry eurozone leaders fearing for the future of their common currency gave the Greek prime minister a last-minute chance Tuesday to finally come up with a viable proposal on how to save his country from financial ruin.

Overcoming their surprise when Alexis Tsipras failed to present them with a detailed reform blueprint, the leaders reluctantly agreed to a final summit on Sunday, saying the days leading up to it could give both sides an opportunity to stave off collapse of the struggling but defiant member nation.

Underscoring the gravity of the challenge, European Union President Donald Tusk decided to call all 28 EU leaders to Brussels, because, for the bloc, it “is maybe the most critical moment in our history.”

French President Francois Hollande insisted much was at stake. “It’s not just the problem of Greece — it’s the future of the European Union,” he said.

Highlighting the rising anger with Tsipras over months of foot-dragging and surprising negotiating twists, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had a stark warning for Greece.

“We have a Grexit scenario, prepared in detail,” he said, apparently referring to the situation in which Greece would be forced out of the currency union.

Speaking to reporters late Tuesday, Tsipras made it clear he had gotten the message that there wasn’t a moment to waste as deadlines for debt payments that Greece cannot afford draw near.

“The process will be swift, it will be speedy, it will begin in the next few hours with the aim of concluding until the end of the week at the latest,” Tsipras said.

According to a joint statement of the leaders, Tsipras must set out Greece’s proposals in detail for a reform agenda by Thursday. The country’s international creditors will then assess the plan to prepare for another meeting of eurogroup finance ministers and ultimately Sunday’s summit of the full EU.

Often such detailed plans have fallen by the wayside amid political bickering between Greece and its creditors.

Greece’s eurozone partners have steadfastly said they want to help Greece stay in the currency club but have just as often complained about Greece dragging its feet during months of negotiations.

“At a certain point, you need to get to the truth,” said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, before asking: “Is there, yes or no, a political will of the Greek government?”

Patience among Greece’s allies was wearing very thin going into Tuesday’s summit. “We are no longer talking about weeks but very few days,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You know, there was a promise for today. Then, they’re promising for tomorrow,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. “For the Greek government it’s every time ‘manana.'”

Tsipras arrived in Brussels buoyed by a triumph in last Sunday’s referendum, where an overwhelming majority of Greeks backed his call to reject the belt-tightening reforms that creditors had last proposed.

But that domestic victory did not appear to give him much leverage in talks with foreign creditors, who know Tsipras needs a deal soon to keep his country afloat. Banks have been shut since last week and will not reopen before Thursday, cash withdrawals have been limited for just as long, and daily business throughout the country has come to a near standstill.

In his flurry of contacts, Tsipras spoke by phone with President Barack Obama, and the White House said it was in Europe’s interest to reach a resolution that puts Greece on the path toward economic growth and stability.

One big sticking point in the talks is Greece’s demand that the terms of its bailout loans be made easier.

European officials are split on the issue, with lead eurozone lender Germany still reluctant. The International Monetary Fund called last week for European states to accept longer repayment periods and lower interest rates on their loans to Greece. Many economists say that Greece’s debt burden, at almost 180 percent of annual GDP, is unsustainable for a country its size.

Normal commerce is now impossible in Greece. Small businesses, lacking use of credit cards or money from bank accounts, were left to rely on cash from diminishing purchases from customers, as Greeks hold on tight to what they have. And suppliers are demanding that businesses pay cash up front.

The lack of progress on Greece worried stock markets in Europe, where the Stoxx 50 index of top companies was down 2.1 percent on Tuesday. The euro also fell, while Greece’s stock market remained shut since last week amid the bank closures.

Greece has been granted two bailout programs worth a total of 240 billion euros ($266 billion) in loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. But the spending cuts and tax increases demanded as a condition for the loans have hit growth, sending the country into a six-year recession and pushing unemployment to 25 percent. The government, meanwhile, has been slower than hoped in making the economy more competitive and selling state assets to raise money.

“The situation is really critical and unfortunately we can’t exclude this black scenario — I mean no agreement until Sunday,” Tusk said.

TIME Greece

Here’s What Could Happen Next in Greece

No one cares enough to save Greece with their own money

Confused? You should be.

All sides say they still want Greece to stay in the euro, and as long as that’s the case, then there’s always a chance that they will make the necessary compromises.

However, all sides are acting like they would rather Greece were out of it: Greece’s government has made impossible promises about keeping the euro without austerity. The Eurozone’s last offer was a deal that pretended Greece has a realistic future in the currency union without growth. The European Central Bank is pretending that Greece’s banks are solvent, but still refusing to lend them any more money to cover a massive run by depositors.

So where do things go from here?

1. How long can the current deadlock last?

The best guess is still July 20th. This is the day when Greece is due to repay the ECB €3.5 billion. It will miss that payment barring some kind of miracle. On that day, it becomes politically impossible for the ECB to continue making emergency short-term loans to Greek banks. If the ECB won’t take the Greek government bonds as collateral, their value will collapse, and the banks will become insolvent (for supervisory purposes, their current troubles are deemed to be ‘temporary’ liquidity difficulties).

No sensible investor would put new money into a bank in that situation, so you would have to use administrative measures to reduce the banks’ liabilities to a level where they are properly covered by assets. The only realistic ways to do that are to convert deposits into equity, or to “haircut” them. That can either be done by simply writing them down or by redenominating them in a new currency.

2. Is there no hope that the creditors will back off on the demand for austerity?

Actually, yes, there is. The creditors’ red line is to write off part of the money Greece owes them. But they can achieve the same effect by rescheduling the debt so that it’s paid off over a much longer time (say 50 years) and with a long grace period. That way, Athens wouldn’t have to run as tight a budget as is currently being demanded, giving the economy more room to grow. If the economy is growing and the debt level isn’t, then pretty much everybody would be satisfied with that.

But there are a lot of problems even with that. For one thing, Greece is already paying less, proportionately, on debt servicing than countries such as Italy and Belgium (whose coat-tails they would be riding on). For another, it would encourage radicals in other countries, bolstering the kind of tax-and-spend leftism that is anathema to Berlin and the European Commission. And most importantly, growth depends on more than writing debt off. The IMF, which suggested the above idea on debt re-profiling last week, despairs of the Greek government ever reforming enough to generate growth.

3. Will Germany relent?

German press coverage has started to swing against Chancellor Angela Merkel as the risk of breaking up the Eurozone rises (see above), but it’s happening too late to change a groundswell of public opinion bitterly opposed to lending Greece any more money. Merkel herself said that there are “only a few days left” to avoid the worst as she arrived for today’s summit. In that timeframe, she has more to lose politically by caving in to Greece than by refusing them. The most likely outcome is that she will try to spin a “Grexit” as a measure to strengthen the euro’s credibility. The Eurozone’s political elite would dearly like to believe that, but the evil Anglo-Saxon speculators who dominate global finance will take more convincing.

4. Can anyone else stop Greece being forced out?

It’s clear that governments from China to the U.S. are concerned by what could happen if Greece goes (President Barack Obama has called Merkel and France’s President Hollande in recent days to voice those concerns). There will be major market volatility (and China’s are quite volatile enough already), huge question marks over the future direction of the E.U., another slowdown in its economy (the world’s largest), and a failed state right on the front line of a migrant crisis that is a major humanitarian disaster.

Despite all this, no-one (not even Vladimir Putin or Nobel Prize-winning liberal economists) seems to care enough about the Greek state, in its current dysfunctional form, to save it with their own money.

5. Would Greece be better off without the euro?

Who better to ask than the Greeks themselves? A Bloomberg poll last week showed 81% of people wanting to keep the euro, and only 12% wanting a return to the drachma. That’s because a euro is a hard currency, with real spending power. Nobody knows what the value of a currency printed at will by Greek governments would be worth, but Greeks remember the last one well enough to have very serious doubts about it. For more on what a drachma would be worth – read this by Fortune’s Stephen Gandel.

6. So why did Greeks vote ‘no’ at the referendum?

Because the government’s message–that this was about austerity–drowned out the warnings from the rest of Europe that it was actually about keeping the euro. That suggests that Greeks are still suffering from acute cognitive dissonance, believing that they can keep the euro without the conditions that everyone else in the Eurozone says are necessary.

7. Will Greece cave at the last minute?

Maybe. The government has to pay pensions and public-sector wages again at the end of every month, and it will not be able to gather together the euros to do that after July 20th. So at some stage it has to admit who has ultimate control over the supply of euros. At that point, it could accept the creditors’ demands. But so many of Tsipras’ party would rebel that the country will need new elections and a new parliament to have any hope of implementing a new deal. On the bright side, once Tsipras and Syriza are out of power, the European might be more inclined to grant debt relief. Politics is a personal business, after all.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME health

Brazil Tries to Cut High Rate of C-Section Births

Over 8 in 10 births in private hospital are currently cesarean deliveries

It’s not a well-known fact, but Brazil is the C-section capital of the world: 85% of all deliveries in the country’s private hospitals are done by cesarean section, and 45% of births in public hospitals.

Now, Brazil is attempting to reverse the trend with rules introduced Tuesday that require doctors to inform expectant mothers of the risks that accompany having a C-section. A woman who chooses a C-section must sign a consent form prior to the procedure. Her doctor must also sign a form justifying the C-section.

The law is aimed at reducing the number of unnecessary C-sections that have been criticized for their negative health consequences; many wealthier women opt for cesarean births for their speed and predictability.

But the issue driving the rate of C-sections in Brazilian maternity wards may in fact be a low bed count. The scarcity of beds, combined with hospitals ill-equipped to deal with natural births that can be unpredictable, is likely to keep the method of delivery popular.

“The best way to guarantee yourself a bed in a good hospital is to book a cesarean,” Pedro Octavio de Britto Pereira, an obstetrician and professor with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told the BBC last year.

[BBC]

TIME espionage

How Real Is the Threat of a Cyberattack?

The threat of a state-sponsored cyberattack on the U.S. is inevitable and could potentially destabilize the global system

TIME editor-at-large Ian Bremmer explains how cyberattacks from state-sponsored hackers and terrorists pose a risk for the U.S. government and financial institutions. Hackers are able to uncover state secrets, trade information and technology ideas.

TIME Mexico

Meet the First Woman to Lead a Mexican Drugs Cartel

Policemen walk during a press conference
Luis Acosta—AFP/Getty Images Policemen walk during a press conference in which alleged members of the Arellano Felix cartel were shown, at the headquarters of the federal police in Mexico City on Dec. 3, 2009.

The men of the Arellano Felix clan are dead or in jail so officials believe Enedina Arellano-Felix has taken over

The Arellano Felix brothers, a clan of infamous drug traffickers in the border city of Tijuana, have a history of meeting sticky ends during festivities. The eldest, Francisco Rafael, was killed at a party by an assassin dressed as a clown. His brother Ramon, known for his brutal torture techniques, was shot dead by police during a seaside carnival. A nephew, Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano, was arrested while watching Mexico beat Croatia in the soccer World Cup. Now after seven male members have gone to their graves or prison cells, the clan may have done what is unthinkable for many in the macho cartel world – let a woman take the helm.

One of the sisters, Enedina Arellano Felix, could be running the remnants of the Tijuana Cartel that traffics cocaine, marijuana, heroin and crystal meth over the world’s busiest border crossing into California, American and Mexican agents say. The 54-old trained accountant is said to be less of a party animal or sadistic killer than her male relatives and more business focused. She is believed to have taken control after Sanchez Arellano, who is reported as being either her son or her nephew, was arrested last year. While there have been other female drug traffickers since the 1920’s, Enedina, known as La Jefa, or the boss, could be the first to head an entire cartel.

Rising to the top in an industry dominated by extremely violent chauvinist men is no east feat, says Javier Valdez, a Mexican journalist who interviewed female traffickers for his book Miss Narco. “This is a world where men behave like animals. Many women in it are used, abused and then killed by the same traffickers they worked with,” Valdez says. “The women who rise high in it are very rare. They have to be extremely intelligent, talented and brave.”

Furthermore, Enedina Arellano Felix has not only survived the fall of her brothers but a slew of takedowns of cartel bosses across Mexico. Under President Enrique Pena Nieto, police and soldiers have rounded up kingpins across the country including the “world’s most wanted man,” Joaquin, “Chapo” Guzman and Miguel Trevino, head of the paramilitary Zetas. La Jefa is one of the last women, or men, standing.

The Arellano Felix brothers moved from inland Mexico to Tijuana in the eighties, carving out their trafficking empire in blood and cocaine-fueled parties. Their antics inspired characters in the movie Traffic. But while the brothers were taking over nightclubs and burning corpses in barbecues, Enedina Arellano-Felix was reported to be studying accounting at a private university.

As her brothers fell in the 2000s, Enedina rose up in the organization, running its money laundering operations by creating front businesses such as pharmacies. From 2002, the U.S. treasury blacklisted her and her companies under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Act. Any American doing business with them can be fined up to a million dollars. By 2006, Mexico’s then attorney general Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said in a news conference she had become the chief financial operator for the cartel.

In 2008, the Arellano Felix brother Eduardo led the cartel into a brutal turf war that left piles of bodies around Tijuana. But after police arrested him after a shoot out, Sanchez Arellano took over with Enedina by his side, says Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. As number two and now number one in the cartel, the Jefa has helped reduce violence and got back to the traditional business of smuggling drugs to Americans, Vigil says.

“She is not into the wars of her brothers. She is into making alliances and making money,” says Vigil, who spent 13 years in Mexico, often undercover. “Her beauty may also have helped her make alliances with powerful traffickers such as Chapo Guzman.”

But while purportedly making her drug trafficking fortune, little is known of the Jefa. There are few photos of her besides some family portraits from the 1980s. She married and divorced at least twice, with one husband also alleged to be a money launderer, but her present marital status is unknown. Instead, myths of this Tijuana boss are spread in song and film. Among drug ballads that appear to be inspired by her legend is one called La Jefa de Tijuana. “A very powerful female, brave and decisive,” croons the singer to accordions and a polka beat. A low budget narco movie was also released with the same name, showing the fictional Jefa as a beautiful women who is not afraid of a gunfight.

Such a mix of fantasy and reality permeates the role of females in Mexican drug trafficking. Women, often with obvious plastic surgery, pose with guns in slinky clothes in many drug ballad music videos. One woman, Claudia Ochoa Felix, who looks like Kim Kardashian, posed with weapons on social media, sparking accusations in local newspapers that she was the head of a group of assassins. She denied it at a news conference.

These videos and social media create a distorted idea of what it is like for most women in the cartel world, say the journalist Valdez. It is not a glamorous life of mansions and jewels, but of brutality, rape, prison and death, he says. Drug traffickers will get girlfriends to have excessive plastic surgery to make them fit their fantasies but later, they may leave them to rot behind bars or murder them. “They want to control women’s bodies as a way to have power over them,” Valdez says. “But in the end, most of them see women as vulnerable and disposable.”

TIME Afghanistan

Afghan Government Officials in Direct Talks With Taliban

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
Allauddin Khan—AP Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a press conference in Kabul on May 26, 2015.

This marks the first official meeting between the two sides since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001

(KABUL, Afghanistan) — An Afghan official says a government delegation has met with Taliban representatives in Pakistan.

An official from the Afghan government’s high peace council told The Associated Press that the meeting took place Tuesday in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Sayed Zafar Hashemi, deputy spokesman for the Afghan president’s office, confirmed that the delegation travelled to Pakistan for talks with the Taliban.

The talks marked the first official meeting between the two sides since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition invasion. Taliban and government representatives have met informally in the past. New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has made it a public priority to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

MONEY Greece

Here’s How Greece Could Affect Your Retirement Savings

Reaction As Greece Imposes Capital Control
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A customer places her daily cash machine withdrawal limit of 60 euros into her purse after using an automated teller machines (ATM) outside a closed Eurobank Ergasias SA bank branch in Athens, Greece, on Monday, June 29, 2015.

Your 401(k) or IRA will probably be fine

Greek leaders are scrambling to nail down a new bailout deal before July 20, when the country would otherwise default on a €3.5 billion bond repayment to European creditors and might be forced to abandon the Euro currency altogether.

As recent stock performance in the U.S. suggests, fears of what a so-called “Grexit” could do to Europe’s economy has spread to American shores. Indeed, U.S. markets may very well be choppy for at least the next several weeks until there’s more certainty about the future.

But there are many reasons to believe that any impact on your 401(k) or IRA investments would be short-lived.

For one, Greece comprises only 0.3% of the global economy. And a typical target date mutual fund, used by many retirement plans, has an even smaller sliver of exposure to the country.

Even if the worse case scenario happens and the Greek crisis affects Europe—or even causes a slowdown among U.S. companies that rely on European demand—history has shown that people who keep investing through recessions make their money back more quickly than one might expect. For example, if you had been so unlucky as to start investing $1,000 per year in the stock market right before the most recent recession, you would have made your money back after only two years post-recession.

That’s a good reason to stay calm and not do anything rash.

Certainly, investing in today’s globalized markets comes with risks. While Greece is relatively tiny, for example, China is a top global trader—and its current market crash could potentially affect economies across the world. But the fact that it’s hard to predict how market forces will play out on a global level is a reason to stay diversified, with portfolios exposed to many different countries and their economies.

Watch the video below to learn more about why foreign stocks are important to your portfolio:

TIME ebola

WHO Politics Interfered With Ebola Response, Panel Says

The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters building in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 .
Raphael Satter — AP The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters building in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 .

Office politics were largely responsible for the WHO's slow Ebola outbreak response, a panel says

An advisory panel selected to assess the response of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Ebola outbreak blamed the agency’s politics and rigid culture for the poor response to the epidemic. The outbreak has infected more than 27,500 people and killed more than 11,200 in West Africa.

In a report published Tuesday, the panel blamed the organization as a whole for being late in activating emergency procedures, despite early warnings from other groups like Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. The panel concluded that the agency made noise about the outbreak with little action and poor preparation: “Although WHO drew attention to the ‘unprecedented outbreak’ at a press conference in April 2014, this was not followed by international mobilization and a consistent communication strategy,” the authors write.

The panel argues that the culture at the WHO greatly prohibited action, writing:

“WHO does not have a culture of rapid decision-making and tends to adopt a reactive, rather than a proactive, approach to emergencies. In the early stages of the Ebola crisis, messages were sent by experienced staff at headquarters and the Regional Office for Africa, including after deployments in the field, about the seriousness of the crisis. Either these did not reach senior leaders or senior leaders did not recognize their significance. WHO does not have an organizational culture that supports open and critical dialogue between senior leaders and staff or that permits risk-taking or critical approaches to decision-making. There seems to have been a hope that the crisis could be managed by good diplomacy rather than by scaling up emergency action.”

The panel says that a number of factors were responsible for the delay in declaring the outbreak a pubic health emergency of international concern, including a late understanding of the gravity of the situation, denial among country authorities, culture problems within the WHO and a failure of the international community as a whole to take notice.

The report suggests instituting a variety of reforms and priorities, including focusing on fast-tracking vaccines and drugs and calling upon WHO member states and partners to immediately contribute $100 million in voluntary contributions for an emergency fund.

Response to the report has been mixed. As the Associated Press reports, some members of the public health community involved were disappointed that individuals were not called out by name and that the agency was already focusing on lessons learned, when the outbreak is still ongoing.

TIME Iran

Iran Nuclear Talks Continue After Blowing Past Second Deadline

Austia Iran Nuclear Talks
Carlos Barria—AP U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman meet with foreign ministers of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union at a hotel in Vienna on July 7, 2015.

Current interim nuclear arrangement with Iran has extended through July 10

(VIENNA) — Iran nuclear talks busted through their second deadline in a week Tuesday, raising new questions about the ability of world powers to cut off all Iranian pathways to a bomb through diplomacy. The talks, already in their 12th day, were prolonged until possibly Friday.

“We knew it would have been difficult, challenging, and sometimes hard,” said Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief. She said the negotiations would continue despite hitting some “tense” moments, and the State Department declared the current interim nuclear arrangement with Iran extended through July 10.

As the latest target date arrived for a deal setting a decade of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other top diplomats huddled in Vienna in search of a breakthrough.

All had spoken of deep differences remaining, and there was no public indication they had resolved disputes ranging from inspection rules on suspicious Iranian sites to limits on Tehran’s research and development of advanced nuclear technology. Still, no one was speaking yet on Tuesday of a long-term extension.

“The last, difficult, political issues, we have to solve,” Mogherini said.

And as he left the talks for an economic summit at home, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said fewer than 10 major differences needed to be ironed out, including access to Iranian sites for international monitors. He said questions related to the easing of sanctions on Iran had been decided, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. Lavrov said he could return to the talks later in the week.

Diplomats had extended their discussions by a week when they missed their goal of a pact by June 30, after passing previous deadlines in July 2014 and last November. For Kerry and his team, pressure is increasing from skeptical U.S. allies and members of Congress. If the accord isn’t sent over to American lawmakers by Thursday, their month-long review period would be doubled to 60 days, hampering the ability of the Obama administration to offer speedy economic benefits to Iran for nuclear concessions.

In Tehran Tuesday, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization declared it had reached a “general understanding” in parallel talks with the U.N. nuclear agency on “joint cooperation.” The Iranians have made similar claims previously, and it was unclear if any process was established for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s long-stymied investigation of past nuclear weapons work by the Islamic Republic — a demand of Washington and its partners in negotiations in Austria’s capital.

There, in a baroque, 19th-century palace, Kerry gathered early Tuesday with the foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. The larger group was to meet with Zarif at some point later in the day. Russia’s Lavrov and China’s Wang Yi had to leave for a gathering of emerging economies in the Russian city of Ufa starting Wednesday, and the EU’s Mogherini said different ministers were likely to depart and return.

“We are taking these negotiations day to day to see if we can conclude a comprehensive agreement,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, adding that Kerry would remain in Vienna.

“We’ve made substantial progress in every area, but this work is highly technical and high stakes for all of the countries involved,” Harf said. “We’re frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock, though we also know that difficult decisions won’t get any easier with time. That is why we are continuing to negotiate.”

The U.S. is in a tough spot. President Barack Obama has expended significant political capital on finalizing an agreement that has prompted suspicion from Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, outright hostility from America’s closest Mideast ally, Israel, and deep ambivalence even among Obama’s Democratic allies in Congress. They’re concerned that the accord would leave Iran’s nuclear infrastructure largely intact and compel the West to provide the leading U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism with potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of economic relief from international sanctions.

To ease their concerns, Obama and Kerry have vowed to hold out for a “good deal” that verifiably keeps Iran at least a year away from a nuclear weapons capability for at least a decade. Current intelligence estimates put the Iranians only two to three months away from amassing enough material for a nuclear warhead, if they pursued such a course. As part of the guarantee, the administration has repeatedly threatened to abandon negotiations if they prove fruitless or appear as an Iranian stall for time.

On-and-off talks with Tehran have been going on for more than a decade, though this incarnation has come closest to any resolution. The latest effort began in secret a couple of years ago and gained speed after the election of moderate-leaning Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013. By November that year, Iran and the six world powers clinched an interim nuclear agreement and began the process for a comprehensive accord.

Over the weekend, a cautious Kerry told reporters that talks on the final package “could go either way.”

Republicans hostile to compromise with Iran have been urging the U.S. to pull back from the talks. Their refrain has been that Obama and Kerry want a deal more than the Iranians do, and have let red lines erode on Iranian enrichment capacity, inspections and providing limited sanctions relief. The president and his top advisers vehemently reject such claims.

Iran has its own red lines, defiantly outlined in recent weeks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s supreme leader. They include a quick easing of sanctions, and rejection of any inspections of military sites or interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists.

___

Associated Press writer George Jahn contributed.

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