WASHINGTON, July 10 More than three-quarters of
the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter sent to
President Barack Obama Wednesday, insisting that lawmakers play
a role in any decision to offer Iran long-term sanctions relief
in connection with negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program.
The letter noted that the U.S. Congress played a central
role in enacting sanctions against Iran and insisted Congress be
involved in any decision to ease sanctions.
Three hundred and forty-four of the chamber's 435 members,
both Republicans and Democrats, signed the letter, which was
released Thursday by California Republican Representative Ed
Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and New
York Representative Eliot Engel, the panel's top Democrat.
The letter was a strong indication of Congress' interest in
the Iran talks ahead of a July 20 deadline for international
negotiators to extend an interim agreement or reach a long-term
pact. Many diplomats and analysts believe an extension may be
needed in view of the wide gaps in negotiating positions.
Separately, a senior Western official said U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry and foreign ministers from the six powers
negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program would travel to
Vienna this weekend to help break a logjam in the talks.
U.S. lawmakers, particularly in the Republican-controlled
House, are generally skeptical of Iran's goal in the talks and
doubt the Islamic Republic will give up on plans to build
The House passed tougher sanctions legislation last summer.
But a similar measure stalled in the Senate, where Democrats
control a majority of the seats, after the Obama administration
said the measure may not give diplomacy a chance to succeed.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum)