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MARCA, June 1, 2016

"Didier Deschamps has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France," French soccer player Karim Benzema told Spanish sports daily MARCA, less than 10 days before the beginning of the European championship in France.

Benzema's remarks echo comments made a few days ago by French soccer legend Eric Cantona, who suggested the striker, currently playing for Real Madrid, and another player of North-African origins had been left out of the national squad on racial grounds.

Officially, the French soccer federation ruled out Benzema's participation after he was charged with conspiracy to blackmail a French teammate, Mathieu Valbuena in a sex-tape scandal.

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Geopolitics

Iran's Hard Line On Nuclear Talks Keeps Getting Harder

In spite of the toll sanctions have taken on its economy, Iran wants a deal on its nuclear program that addresses none of the West's concerns about its military ambitions. It is also moving forward with new uranium enrichment technology.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visiting the Bushehr nuclear power plant

Ahmad Ra'fat and Hamed Mohammadi

-Analysis-

After a four-month hiatus, Iran has resumed talks on its nuclear program with other signatory countries of the suspended, multilateral pact of 2015. These are Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and the European Union (EU). The talks that began this week in Vienna exclude the United States, an original signatory that withdrew from the pact in 2018 — and while the U.S. administration under President Joe Biden says it favors a deal, it is only indirectly involved, through the EU.

Prospects for this round remain dim, given Iran's preconditions and the stated objectives of Western states. The Iranian deputy-foreign minister, Ali Baqeri-Kani, said on a recent trip to several EU states that Iran would only resume talks to discuss ending sanctions on it, and there would be no discussions for a nuclear agreement. He was suggesting that an end to all sanctions — whether for Tehran's nuclear program, rights violations or terrorism abroad — was the central condition for more talks.

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