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Will Iran’s supreme leader allow Rouhani’s last wish to come true?

As Washington and Tehran make small progress on resolving their dispute over the 2015 nuclear deal, it remains unclear whether Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will support President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to negotiate.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (C) arrives to address parliament in the capital, Tehran, on Sept. 3, 2019. In the address, he ruled out holding any bilateral talks with the United States, saying the Islamic Republic is opposed to such negotiations in principle. He also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal "in the coming days" if current negotiations yield no results by Sept. 5.

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prepares to leave office in a few months’ time, a significant breakthrough has been made on the nuclear deal front. Officials from Iran and its partners in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 — met virtually on April 2, paving the way for another meeting in Vienna, in person, on April 6. According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the meeting’s aim is to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting and nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.”

A Western diplomatic source told Al-Monitor that the meeting on April 6 was coordinated through a back channel and not during the video conference, without providing more details.

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