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Iran says ready to continue nuclear talks based on submitted draft proposals

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Iran said Monday it was ready to resume nuclear talks but based on draft proposals it submitted last week, accusing Western powers of stalling negotiations in Vienna.

Last week, the Islamic republic returned to international talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal after a five-month pause.

On Wednesday it submitted two draft resolutions on the lifting of US sanctions and nuclear-related measures.

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But at the weekend the United States, as well as European participants at the Vienna talks, accused Iran of back-tracking.

A senior US administration official said the proposals “walked back any of the compromises that Iran had floated” during the previous six rounds of negotiations.

The official accused Iran of seeking to “pocket all of the compromises that others – the US in particular – had made and then ask for more.”

On Monday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh hit back.

“Our texts are fully negotiable,” he told a news conference about the draft proposals,” also charging that the other parties “want to play a blame game.”

“We are waiting naturally to hear the other side’s opinion concerning these texts and whether they have a real (counter) offer to make to us in writing,” Khatibzadeh added.

The seventh round of nuclear talks ended Friday after five days in Vienna, with delegations returning to their national capitals and expected to go back to Austria next week.

Khatibzadeh said the negotiations were expected to resume “at the end of the week,” without elaborating.

The landmark 2015 nuclear accord was initially agreed between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The deal is aimed at putting curbs on Iran’s nuclear program to ensure it could not develop an atomic weapon, in exchange for sanctions relief for Tehran.

But it began unravelling in 2018 when then US president Donald Trump pulled out and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to start exceeding limits on its nuclear program the following year.

Iran has always insisted that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Read more:

Explainer: What remains of the Iran nuclear deal as talks resume?

Europe disappointed at Iran’s stance in nuclear talks

Iran’s recent moves don’t give room for optimism on new deal: Blinken

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US considering moving troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe: NATO diplomat

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The United States is considering transferring some troops stationed in Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks, a NATO diplomat told Reuters, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“This has to do with American troops that are already in Europe,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a New York Times report that said US President Joe Biden was considering sending US troops to the Baltics and Eastern European allies.

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NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.

The diplomat said the potential troop movements would be gradual and that any filling of NATO gaps on its eastern flank could take place in the coming weeks.

Read more: From Kyiv, top US diplomat warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

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Several wounded in shooting in German city; gunman dead

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A lone gunman wounded several people at a lecture theater in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg on Monday, police said.

Police said in a brief statement that the perpetrator was dead, but didn’t give details of how that happened. They had earlier asked people on Twitter to avoid the Neuenheimer Feld area of Heidelberg, where the city’s university campus is located.

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Police didn’t specify how many people were wounded, or how seriously, and there was no information on their identities or that of the suspected shooter. The university’s press office declined to give any details on the shooting and referred all inquiries to police.

German news agency dpa cited unidentified security sources as saying that the gunman killed himself.

Police said the weapon used in the shooting was a long-barreled firearm.

Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known.

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Aramco CEO says oil demand nearing pre-pandemic levels: Report

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Al Nasser said that the demand for oil is nearing pre-pandemic levels, Asharq Business reported in a tweet on Monday.

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EIG-led investors in Aramco oil pipelines hire banks for dual-tranche bonds

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