Mar 4, 5:16 AM EST

US, Iran resume nuclear talks after Netanyahu speech


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MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) -- Undeterred by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scathing speech against an Iran nuclear deal, U.S. and Iranian negotiators resumed work Wednesday on an agreement meant to crimp Iran's atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief.

With an end-of-month deadline looming to complete a framework accord, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sat down in the Swiss resort of Montreux for their third meeting this week to hash out details of an emerging pact. On Tuesday in Washington, Netanyahu told Congress that the agreement taking shape is dangerous and would allow Iran the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

His speech drew standing ovations, mostly from Republican legislators. But U.S. officials led by President Barack Obama criticized Netanyahu for not presenting any viable alternative to preventing Iran from getting the bomb. Iran, meanwhile, decried pushback from Obama meant to deflect Netanyahu criticism.

Obama this week said that Iran would have to suspend its nuclear activities for at least a decade as part of any final agreement. Zarif, in a statement quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA, said Obama's remarks were "unacceptable and threatening," aimed at attracting U.S. public opinion while reacting to Netanyahu "and other extremist opponents of the talks."

The U.S., Iran and other world powers are racing to meet the end-of-March target to reach the outline of deal, with a July deadline for a final agreement.

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