PARIS  - Iran and world powers reached a preliminary accord Sunday curbing Tehran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, the biggest breakthrough in a decade-old standoff.  It was widely praised as a step towards making the world safer but Israel criticised the deal as giving the Islamic republic too much and failing to guarantee it would not get the bomb. Here are the main reactions to the Geneva deal:

=     US President Barack Obama

"Today, the United States - together with our close allies and partners - took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear programme."

=     UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

“The accord "could turn out to be the beginnings of a historic agreement for the peoples and nations of the Middle East region and beyond."

=     US Secretary of State John Kerry

"This first step, I want to emphasise, actually rolls back the programme from where it is today, enlarges the breakout time, which would not have occurred unless this agreement existed. It will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer."

=     EU President Herman Van Rompuy

"It is now crucial to ensure punctual implementation of the agreement reached and to continue working, on the basis of the trust that is being built, towards a definitive settlement of this issue."

=     Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

"This agreement is the greatest diplomatic victory of Iran, which has gained recognition for its so-called legitimate right to enrich uranium."

=     Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

"Nobody lost, everyone ends up winning... We are convinced that Iran will cooperate with the (International Atomic Energy Agency) agency in good faith.

=     Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

"This agreement will help to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation system, (and) safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East."

=     British Foreign Secretary William Hague

The deal is "good for the whole world, including Middle Eastern countries and the people of Iran themselves".

=     French President Francois Hollande:

"The interim accord reached overnight is an important step in the right direction... towards stopping Iran's military nuclear programme and therefore normalising our ties."

=     French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

The accord "confirms Iran's right to civilian nuclear energy but rules out access to the nuclear weapon."

=     European Union President Herman Van Rompuy

"It is now crucial to ensure punctual implementation of the agreement reached and to continue working, on the basis of the trust that is being built, towards a definitive settlement of this issue."

=     Syrian Foreign Ministry

Syria "considers it to be a historic accord which guarantees the interests of the brotherly Iranian people and acknowledges their right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."