Updated at 3:43 p.m. ET
The U.S. says enough progress has been made in talks with Iran on its nuclear program to warrant an extension of today's 6 p.m. ET deadline by a day.
"We've made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday," spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. "There are several difficult issues still remaining."
She said Secretary of State John Kerry, who was scheduled to leave the talks Tuesday, will remain until Wednesday.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, "continue to be productive," but if there is no political agreement by the June 30 deadline for an agreement, "we would walk away from the negotiating table."
It's important to note here that today's 6 p.m. deadline is self-imposed. As The Washington Post explains: "When talks were extended in November, Kerry said that if the parties did not have a broad agreement by the end of March, Obama would have to reassess whether to continue the negotiations." But the June 30 date Earnest referred to is the deadline the U.S. and its allies in the talks — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — set with Iran over restrictions to its nuclear program.
Our original post continues:
The six nations that have been debating a plan to curb Iran's nuclear program and ease economic sanctions will hit the deadline for a framework agreement at 6 p.m. ET. Ahead of that deadline, there are signs that a deal is in the works — and that it might not be a sweeping arrangement that lays out future terms.
Early Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believed an agreement would be reached by the end of the day.
"Lavrov said the chances for a deal are high," NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow, "as long as none of the parties raises the stakes at the last minute."
The Associated Press reports that the parties involved are now preparing "to issue a general statement agreeing to continue talks." The news agency says that later today, we should expect to see a joint statement that announces a framework understanding.
At the meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, diplomats from Iran, the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, China, and Germany have struggled to resolve key issues such as how and when sanctions on Iran could be lifted, as well as how Iran's existing nuclear stockpile should be stored.
Their goal has been to hammer out a framework arrangement on political terms. More technical and specific aspects would then be included in a separate round of talks, with a June deadline for a final agreement.
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