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Iran-P4+1 talks

Iran’s lead negotiator in Vienna talks has accused some parties of continuing to playing the blame game, even as fresh round of diplomacy is underway for the removal of sanctions. Ali Bagheri Kani says diplomacy is a two-way street, and that Iran has worked constructively and flexibly to narrow the gaps during the talks. He believes that securing a good deal is possible if the parties resolve to do so. The comments came in reaction to Western diplomats questioning the progress of the seventh round of talks. Iran says it is seeking to work out a good deal that will ensure the rights and interests of its people. Tehran says the termination of US sanctions is the main outcome it wants from these negotiations and only then will it reverse its nuclear commitments.

US-China tensions

The US secretary of state is stepping up the rhetoric against Beijing. Antony Blinken says China needs to stop behaving in an aggressive manner in the Indo-Pacific region. Blinken, who is touring the region, accused China of claiming open seas as its own, urging Beijing to change its behavior. He said Washington will seek to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The US and China are locked in dispute over a series of issues, including Chinese islands in the South China Sea. Washington says Beijing’s actions breach the sovereignty rights of other regional states. But China argues that the sovereignty issue is simply a pretext the US is using to increase its military presence in the region.

Battle for Marib

The Yemeni army is pushing to capture the city of Marib from forces that are fighting on behalf of a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Army troops and their allied fighters are now in control of several strategic hilltops near Marib, after conducting a pincer attack. Local media reports say the Saudi-backed forces have retreated with heavy losses. At least 30 militants are feared dead. The battle for Marib seems to be drawing to a close, with the Yemeni army advancing deeper into the territory. On Monday, they killed a top military commander just outside the city. Marib, the capital of the oil-rich province of the same name, is the last stronghold of the Saudi-led forces in the north. Its liberation is expected to pave the way for the Yemeni army to capture more provinces.

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