"We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline," Mogherini told reporters. The deal under discussion between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, is aimed at curbing Tehran's most sensitive nuclear work for a decade or more, in exchange for relief from sanctions that have slashed Iran's oil exports and crippled its economy.

"We might see some ministers leaving in the next hours and then ready to come back," Mogherini said. "We are interpreting in a flexible way our deadline, which means that we are taking the time, the days we still need, to finalize the agreement," she added, adding that there remained several difficult issues to resolve. The negotiators missed a June 30 deadline for a final agreement and then gave themselves until Tuesday.

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