Iran will need to show more flexibility to reach a nuclear deal with the six powers it is negotiating with, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday (22 June), suggesting the talks might go on beyond a 30 June deadline.
"There will need to be some more flexibility shown by our Iranian partners if we are going to reach a deal, but, look, this is a negotiation, we always expected it would go right to the line and maybe beyond the line," Hammond told reporters as he arrived for a European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.
"So I think the serious negotiations are now getting under way and over the next week or so I hope we will start to see some real progress."
Hammond is due to hold talks later with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of Germany and France.
Asked if it would matter if the 30 June deadline slipped by a few days, he said: "Let's see where we get to. We are pushing hard to get there."
Hammond confirmed the sanctions against Russia will be continued. "We will agree formally the roll-over of sanctions against Russia until it meets its Minsk obligations," he said upon his arrival. "So another six months of sanctions."
Hammond also announced the commencement of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operation in the Mediterranean.
He said: "Yes, we are going to announce today the commencement of the operation. It will be phased operation and of course we need United Nations Security Council resolutions to commence later phases of the operation."
CSDP, formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and is the domain of EU policy covering defence and military aspects, as well as civilian crisis management.
Hammond's comments came as EU foreign ministers continue to discuss how to deal with the crisis in the Mediterranean, which has led to the deaths of around 1,800 migrants, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
The first phase of the operation will focus on surveillance and assessment of the networks behind the boats attempting to make the dangerous crossing, with the aim of eventually gaining UN Security Council approval for military action in Libyan waters.