Little progress in Vienna talks as Iran’s election approaches

With the Iranian presidential elections looming, very little progress has been made so far in the fifth round of indirect talks in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran, two sources briefed on the talks tell me.

Why it matters: The Iranian elections on June 18 are likely to strengthen the conservative camp, with Ebrahim Raisi — the leader of Iran’s judiciary and a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the favorite to win.

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Driving the news: U.S. officials expressed cautious optimism last week heading into the fifth round of talks.

What they’re saying: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continued to express optimism in a speech on Wednesday, saying the main issues had been agreed upon.

  • Iran’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, has sounded less optimistic this week than during previous rounds, though he said on Wednesday that the parties had reached a point where “all believe that the differences are not unresolvable.”

What’s next: The current round of talks will end on Wednesday with a meeting of Iran and the deal’s other remaining signatories to decide on the next steps. The U.S. will not take part in that meeting.

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