US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Geneva to help negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.

The foreign ministers of Germany, the UK, France and China are also expected, amid hopes of an agreement that would see Iran curb uranium enrichment in return for a loosening of sanctions.

The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran are already at the Geneva conference, which began on Wednesday.

Some US lawmakers say they will push for more sanctions if the talks fail.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some world powers suspect it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability.

Negotiators have been working since Wednesday to try to find an agreement which is acceptable to Iran and its P5+1 negotiating partners – made up of the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

The talks had been scheduled to conclude on Friday, but they now look likely to continue into the weekend.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would arrive in Geneva early on Saturday, “with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement”.

Kerry’s participation in itself does not prove a deal is at at hand, but it does show that the talks may have reached a critical stage, says the BBC’s James Reynolds in Geneva.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague will also arrive on Saturday, as will his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

France has taken a harder line on Iran than other Western powers, encouraging its negotiating partners not to make too many compromises.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will also attend, said officials, while China said its foreign minister, Wang Yi, had left for Geneva early on Saturday.

EU foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton is leading the conference.

On Friday she briefly met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif for a conversation which Iran’s official Irna news agency described as “complicated and tough”.

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