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Top Diplomats Meet as Deadline for Iran Nuclear Deal Approaches

Top Diplomats Meet as Deadline for Iran Nuclear Deal Approaches

With two days remaining before a self-imposed deadline to reach a political framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, P5+1 and Iranian diplomats are continuing meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, to work out remaining details. Experts familiar with the talks say there are two issues that still haven’t been resolved: the research and development that Iran will be allowed to conduct in the later stages of a deal and the pace of international sanctions relief for Iran. A possible third conflict emerged on Sunday when Iranian negotiators backed away plans to ship their nuclear fuel to Russia, though reports noted Iran’s insistence on keeping the fuel in a diluted form would make it more difficult for it to be used in a weapon. A previous point of contention over allowing centrifuges to operate at Iran’s heavily fortified Fordow facility was resolved by allowing Iran to purify non-nuclear materials at the site.

With the deadline approaching, foreign ministers are now running into scheduling conflicts if negotiations come down to the wire or press into April. In particular, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he will be leaving the talks today, but that he will return for an announcement if a deal is reached. It is unclear when that announcement could be made, but officials have said diplomats would likely travel to Geneva to announce a deal.

Foreigners Leave Aden, Saudi Intervention Strikes Yemeni Air Force

International diplomats were evacuated from Aden over the weekend as Houthi rebels continue to fight near the city. Saudi-led airstrikes targeted missiles and fighter jets that were previously captured by the Houthi rebels. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced from office in 2011 and whose support has enabled the Houthis’ takeover, called for negotiations and claimed he would renounce politics, though many doubt his sincerity. Yemen’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseem said Sunday, “The operation will end when Yemen is safe and secure. But we will only negotiate with those who are willing to disarm…We won’t negotiate with [the Houthis] because they carried out a coup.” At least 49 people have been killed by airstrikes since the intervention began, and another 75 have died in clashes between pro-Houthi and pro-government troops.

Headlines

  • Tunisian authorities said Sunday that a lead suspect in planning the attack on the Bardo art museum was killed in a raid; tens of thousands of Tunisians participated in an anti-terrorism march in Tunis over the weekend.

 

  • Citing intelligence about a possible terrorist attack, Turkey has closed its two remaining border crossings with Syria to individuals and is now only allowing humanitarian aid to cross the border.

 

  • An Egyptian court designated 18 members of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists under a new law passed last month.

 

  • Turkey has charged two former policemen with reported ties to the Gulen Movement with spying on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

  • Israeli officials said they would release tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority that had been withheld as punishment for the Palestinian effort to join the International Criminal Court.

-J. Dana Stuster

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images