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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) and diplomats leave a news conference in Vienna July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

(reuters_tickers)

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran and six world powers on Friday agreed to a four-month extension of negotiations on a possible nuclear deal that would gradually end sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, diplomats close to the talks said.

Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China had set a July 20 deadline to complete a long-term agreement that would resolve the decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. But diplomats said they were unable to overcome significant differences on major sticking points.

"We have reached an agreement to extend the talks," a senior Iranian diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Other diplomats echoed his remarks.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Fredrik Dahl and Louis Charbonneau; writing by Louis Charbonneau)

Reuters