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Contrary to US, Iran says nuclear talks in Doha were ‘positive’ 

Indirect talks between Iran and the US in Qatar this week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “positive,” Iran’s top diplomat said, contradicting the US State Department which said no progress was made.
“Our assessment of the recent talks in Doha is positive,” Iranian state media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as telling his Qatari counterpart over the phone on Wednesday.
“We are serious about reaching a good, strong and lasting agreement, and if the US is realistic, an agreement can be reached,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
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Talks between the US and Iran began in Doha on Tuesday with the two sides negotiating indirectly through European Union envoy Enrique Mora as Tehran refuses to negotiate directly with Washington.
They ended on Wednesday without “the progress the EU team as coordinator had hoped for,” Mora said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We will keep working with even greater urgency to bring back on track a key deal for non-proliferation and regional stability,” he added.
The US State Department said “no progress” was made during the talks, blaming Iran. “We are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative and therefore that no progress was made.”
Iran “raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it,” the State Department said.
Iran’s positive assessments of the talks are meant to “inject hope to keep the process moving for as long as possible to buy time,” Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told Al Arabiya English.
“From Iran’s perspective, the situation is positive: it calculates the E3 (Britain, France and Germany) and the US will never leave the table and impose meaningful costs while it advances its nuclear program; it gets to export its oil to China amid lax sanctions enforcement and high prices; and builds what is sees as a resistance economy,” said Brodsky.
“Iran thinks all it has to do is offer another meeting, sound upbeat, and tell all too eager mediators like Qatar and the EU what they want to hear ¬– and nothing will change. It’s up to the E3 and the US to alter that calculus,” he added.
“Iran only loses by the nuclear talks breaking down as that would trigger snapback sanctions.”
Prior to the talks in Doha, the US and Iran had engaged for over a year in indirect talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 deal.
Negotiations stalled in March, reportedly over an Iranian demand to have the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removed from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. The US had designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization under former President Donald Trump in 2019.
The talks in Doha may be the last chance to revive the deal due to the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program.
The 2015 deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran, saying the deal failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities, and it did not block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, responded by expanding its nuclear program, breaching most of the deal’s restrictions.
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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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