Talks on Iran: Work toward an accord is proceeding

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Secretary of State John F. Kerry launched three major peacemaking efforts last year — the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a quest for an end to the Syrian civil war and talks to resolve the conflict between Iran and other nations over its nuclear ambitions.

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have stalled and the Syrian conflict has proceeded beyond talks, but the effort with Iran is still very much afloat.

The most recent talks took place in Vienna last week, between the Iranians and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — plus Germany. No accord emerged, but observers said the atmosphere and communications are good and both sides are preparing to present a more concrete draft agreement, perhaps after the next talks, in June.

The framework under which the talks are taking place provides for them to end by July 20, but there is no reason why they cannot be prolonged.

At the same time, delay is discouraged by the fact that political elements in both Tehran and Washington will be looking for an opening to claim that these are talks for the sake of talks, not to achieve an accord.

Both sides have strong reasons to want an agreement. The United States, and its ally Israel, want assurance that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapons capacity. On the other side, Iran’s economy continues to stagger under the burden of sanctions, until an accord lessens or eliminates them. The world needs to do all that it can to enhance prospects for success in the negotiations that would benefit all parties to them.

U.S. cooperation with China and Russia in achieving an Iran agreement would also serve to calm the troubled waters between America and these two powers.

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