Tehran despatch: Iran rolls out red carpet after nuclear deal

Federica Mogherini and Mohammad Javad Zarif
Ms Mogherini was greeted by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

When a city suddenly moves to the top tier of foreign ministers' travel itineraries, you know it has notched up new political significance.

Such is the status of Tehran.

No sooner was a landmark nuclear deal announced in Vienna on 14 July than senior officials started checking and changing their diaries to come here.

The first to reach the Iranian capital was Germany's Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who flew in with a 100-member delegation, including many captains of German industry and finance.

Now it's the turn of the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who's just arrived for her first official visit. Europe's top diplomat played a key role in the final stages of the intensive talks which stretched over nearly two years, sometimes hovering on collapse.

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Iran nuclear deal: Turning point or transformation?

US President Barack Obama gestures during a speech at the 116th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (21 July 2015)
US President Barack Obama insists the deal will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon

Everyone agrees last week's landmark deal on Iran's nuclear programme marked a significant turning point.

This week, fundamental disagreements over what kind of turn it will take are centre stage in Washington, Tehran and many other capitals.

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Is this the moment of truth for an Iran deal?

Iranian officials gather on a balcony of the Palais Coburg Hotel, Vienna. 11 July 2015
The world's media watches Iranian officials on the balconies of the Palais Coburg in Vienna

It's been called the last mile, the last, most difficult stretch of scaling the highest peak, even the last chance.

As hard as it is, nobody wants to be the first to walk away from the best hope in many years to secure a long-term deal with Iran on its nuclear programme.

Read full article Is this the moment of truth for an Iran deal?

The children scarred by war

Syed, aged 12

A wasteland of rubble still bears testament to last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza. But there are deeper scars - damage that can't be seen and may never heal.

A week after the fighting began, Syed's life was shattered on the day the 12-year-old, his 11-year-old brother Mohamed, and their six cousins went to Gaza's beach to play football.

Read full article The children scarred by war

Can powers meet the 'real' deadline on Iran's nuclear programme?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at a hotel in Vienna, Austria June 30, 2015.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have led the marathon talks

Will Vienna be the venue for the end of a 12-year standoff over Iran's nuclear programme?

"We're not there yet," cautions a Western official, as talks continue into the first week of July and past a self-imposed deadline of 30 June.

Read full article Can powers meet the 'real' deadline on Iran's nuclear programme?

Afghanistan's leaders face battle for peace

Afghan security personnel run at the scene of a suicide attack by Taliban militants on the Afghan parliament building in Kabul on 22 June 2015
The timing of the attack on the parliament in Kablul was hugely significant

Will there be more and more months of horrific violence in Afghanistan, or will there be historic negotiations?

This year has already seen some of the most important Taliban gains on the battlefield, and the most significant period of informal talks.

Read full article Afghanistan's leaders face battle for peace

Yemen conflict: A passport out of war

  • 21 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
Refugees from Yemen arrive in Djibouti port - May 2015

A human tide reaches the shores of Djibouti almost every day.

Waves of Yemenis are taking to the sea in packed yachts or wooden dhows meant to ferry fishermen or livestock, not a people fleeing for their lives.

Read full article Yemen conflict: A passport out of war

Countdown to Iran nuclear deal - but resistance remains

Delegates at nuclear talks in Lausanne (02/04/15)
The so-called p5+1 and Iran agreed a framework deal this month after marathon talks

A historic deal with Iran over its nuclear programme is now within reach - but it's still uncertain whether this rare chance to resolve a major security challenge of our time through diplomacy will be grasped.

This week, the prospect of a final deal, which must be reached by the end of June, could be pulled in two different directions.

Read full article Countdown to Iran nuclear deal - but resistance remains

Syria conflict: Fighting for a future for Yarmouk

Yarmouk, 6 April
Yarmouk, once a home for 150,000 Palestinian refugees, has been devastated by Syria's war

A refugee camp which grew into the liveliest of neighbourhoods is now crumbling into the deadliest of quarters as life drains away by the day.

Never has the future of Yarmouk looked so uncertain for the community of Palestinian refugees as well as Syrians who call it home.

Read full article Syria conflict: Fighting for a future for Yarmouk

Sense of history as Iran nuclear talks go to the wire

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi at the nuclear talks in Lausanne (30 March 2015)

In a world where all too many conflicts are in search of solution there is a palpable sense history could be made here.

If a framework for an Iranian nuclear deal is agreed this week in this serene Swiss setting of Lausanne, it could pave the way for one of the most significant, but most sensitive, accords in decades.

Read full article Sense of history as Iran nuclear talks go to the wire