(L-R) Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, EU envoy Catherine Ashton, Omani Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a photo in Muscat Nov. 9, 2014. REUTERS/Nicholas Kamm/Pool
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The United States and Iran began high-level talks in Oman Sunday ahead of a looming deadline for a deal on Tehran's nuclear program, with both sides under pressure at home.Despite the approaching deadline, Iran and the P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- are far apart on what capabilities Iran's nuclear program should have.However, domestic politics were hanging heavily over the talks, given the loss in midterm elections of the Senate by Obama's Democrats to the Republican party, members of whom have consistently bridled at the White House's negotiations with Iran.If talks go sour in the coming weeks it is thought the U.S. Congress may respond with fresh sanctions on Iran. The surprise election last year of President Hassan Rouhani, who had pledged to revive Iran's sanctions-battered economy, was a turning point on the nuclear issue but progress has been elusive since an interim deal came into effect in January.
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