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'Need for US flexibility'

Iran says it is ready to again engage constructively in the talks for the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to achieve an agreement. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says Tehran backs a strong and lasting agreement. Amir-Abdollahian says, however, that this would hinge on the US showing initiative and flexibility. He made the comments in a phone talk with his Omani counterpart Badr Albusaidi. The Omani official said his country supports the realization of the legitimate demands of Iran in the talks. Iran and the US held indirect talks in the Qatari capital Doha last week. Tehran says the main hurdle to an agreement in the discussions remains the US committing itself to its obligations under the JCPOA.

Battle for Donetsk

Shelling by Ukrainian forces has killed at least 2 people in the eastern Donetsk region, which is now the new epicenter of the war between Kiev and Moscow. According to pro-Russia forces, five civilians were killed and 13 others wounded in the Ukrainian shelling of the region a day earlier. Local officials accuse Russian forces of launching similar deadly attacks on civilians. The governor of Donetsk says seven civilians were killed and at least 20 others injured as a result of Russian shelling Sunday. Russian forces captured the neighboring Luhansk region over the weekend, marking a significant milestone for Moscow. President Putin hailed what he described as the liberation of the region, ordering his forces to continue advancing towards the western parts of Donetsk. Ukrainian forces are boosting their defenses in the region. Pro-Russia forces in Ukraine controlled large parts of Luhansk and Donetsk before the war broke out in late February. 

Assange extradition

Mexican president says the Statue of Liberty would no longer be a symbol of freedom and should be dismantled if the US gives a death sentence to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Lopez Obrador, who has offered asylum to Assange, says he would call on the US president to drop the charges against him. Obrador added that the Australian whistleblower has been treated unfairly and worse than a criminal. Assange is facing extradition from Britain to the US, where he is charged with publishing classified military and diplomatic documents. The WikiLeaks founder has appealed the British court ruling on his extradition.

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