By David McCabe
Secretary of State John Kerry mourned the death of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s mother on Wednesday as U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program enter their final weeks.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Hassan Rouhani and his family on the passing of his mother, Mrs. Sakineh Peivandi,” he said in a statement. “Such a loss is especially hard coming on the eve of Nowruz, traditionally a time when families gather together in joy and hope.”
“We share in his grief and that of his brother, Presidential Special Advisor Hossein Fereydoun, who has been participating in the talks in Lausanne, and we keep their family in our thoughts,” he added.Nowruz is the Persian New Year and is celebrated by people around the world. President Obama issued a Nowruz greeting on Thursday where he said that the nuclear talks represented “the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries.” The White House also held a Nowruz event last weekend.
The outreach efforts come at a critical time in the nuclear talks. Negotiators in Switzerland have until the end of the month to meet a self-imposed deadline to determine a framework for a nuclear deal.
Though administration officials have said they do not want to extend the talks, Kerry indicated that an extension might be feasible if the countries had determined the outlines of an accord. On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that a draft of the deal requires Iran to limit the number of centrifuges it has to 6,000.