The nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers will apparently continue past the Tuesday July 7 deadline for an agreement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
"We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline," Mogherini told reporters at the the Austrian capital, Vienna, with foreign ministers racing to resolve outstanding differences.
The deal between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States is still under intensive construction, and is aimed at monitoring Iran's most sensitive nuclear work for for over 12 years in exchange for immediate relief for the country from economic sanctions that have long 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, stating that there remained several difficult issues to resolve.
The parties previously missed a June 30 deadline for a final agreement before setting a new deadline for this Tuesday.
Reports suggest a new deadline of July 10 will be imposed, according to Reuters. talks have intensified since the original deadline was missed.
Both sides signalled that a deal is closer than ever before when they arrived at Vienna's Palais Coburg hotel on Monday. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters: "The comprehensive agreement is within reach."
Iranian newspapers in return reported that tangible progress was achieved, and an agreement on the main body of the accord and four of the five annexes is very possible in the near future.
However, pivotal differences remain, including limits on nuclear research and development and guidelines for inspections, as well as the speed of and limits to sanctions relief.
US Secretary of State John Kerry aims to finalise an agreement by Wednesday at the latest so that the US Congress can review and approve it by Thursday. If a deal is presented later, the review period will double from 30 days to 60.
"Everybody is still, I think, rowing on the oars here to try to get a deal done. But it's got to be the right deal," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
An Iranian official told reporters, "If we pass July 9, this may not be the end of the world."