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Iranians optimistic about clinching nuclear agreement

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Iran is giving an unusually upbeat assessment of nuclear talks in Switzerland on Tuesday. 

Iran's top nuclear official says his government's main disagreements with the U.S. and its negotiating partners have been resolved. And he is expressing optimism about meeting a late March deadline for a framework deal.

Tehran's nuclear chief, Ali Akhbar Salehi, told Iranian state TV that "the main issues have been closed."

In separate comments to reporters in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the talks are being held, he said if common ground can be found on one "final item," then as far as technical issues, "things are clear on both sides."

A senior U.S. official was less bullish, saying the sides had made progress but still had a ways to go in eliminating differences on what Tehran had to do for a gradual end to sanctions.

The sides are working to meet two target dates: a framework in the next two weeks that lays down the outlines of a final deal by the end of June.

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APPHOTO TOK303: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, listens to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, March 16, 2015. The United States and Iran are plunging back into negotiations in a bid to end a decades-long standoff that has raised the specter of an Iranian nuclear arsenal, a new atomic arms race in the Middle East and even a U.S. or Israeli military intervention. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool) (16 Mar 2015)

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