US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna Saturday to consult with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to consult on the Iran nuclear deal, Kerry's spokesman announced late Friday.

News of the trip came amid rising expectations of an imminent announcement of the implementation of the deal.

On Friday the European Union prepared to lift economic sanctions against Iran, EU diplomats said, as a settlement of the 13-year-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions seemed ever closer.

In July, Iran reached the deal with six world powers, promising to significantly curb its nuclear activities in return for an end to a raft of restrictive measures imposed by the United States and the EU that have seriously hampered the country's economy.

The agreement aims to restrict Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon, an aim Tehran has always denied.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China were awaiting confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had fulfilled its side of the deal by scaling down its nuclear activities.

The IAEA could likely issue this report Saturday, which would be the signal for EU, US and UN sanctions to be revoked without delay, as foreseen by the July agreement, several diplomats told dpa.

The White House said Friday that no sanctions relief would come until IAEA verification.

The White House on Friday acknowledged Iran's "important progress" in fulfilling its commitment "to dismantle significant portions of their nuclear infrastructure," noting that 25,000 pounds of enriched of uranium had been shipped out of the country over the holidays.

Nevertheless, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Iran would not receive "any sort of sanctions relief" until the IAEA has verified that all the necessary steps had been taken.

Among other things, the sanctions have blocked oil and gas exports from Iran and have effectively cut it off from the international banking system.

Earnest said that the sanctions relief would "merely allow [Iran] to get access to their own money that is currently in the international financial system." He estimated the amount to be between 50-100 billion dollars.

In Brussels, the legal text triggering the lifting of sanctions was ready by Friday morning, EU diplomats said on condition of anonymity. It will take effect as soon as it is published in the bloc's official journal, once the Iran deal is implemented.

To ensure a speedy adoption, 27 of the EU's 28 member states signed the document Friday, leaving the Netherlands to complete the process, once the go-ahead is given. The country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Diplomats said foreign ministers from Iran and some of the six powers could meet on the weekend to mark the end of the nuclear dispute in a ceremony. The exact place or time had not been set as of Friday evening.

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.