Iranian negotiators this week concluded a third round of talks with their Western counterparts over Tehran’s much-disputed atomic energy program, still hopeful that a comprehensive deal can be reached by 20 July, when a six-month interim deal expires. But with talk resurfacing of a Russian oil-for-goods deal with Iran, the chances are, it won’t come easy.

Speaking at the close of the talks in Vienna on 9 April, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that after several rounds of discussions, the two sides are ready to bridge the remaining gaps in the way of a final deal. The next round, scheduled for 13 May, would see talks “move to the next phase,” she said. (CONTINUED - 1208 WORDS)