The Biden administration has been quietly negotiating with Iran to limit its nuclear program and free imprisoned Americans, according to officials from three countries, as part of a larger U.S. effort to ease tensions and reduce the risk of a military confrontation with the Islamic country.

The U.S. goal is to reach an informal, unwritten agreement, which some Iranian officials are calling a “political cease-fire.” It would aim to prevent a further escalation in a hostile relationship that has grown even more fraught as Iran builds up a stockpile of highly enriched uranium, supplies Russia with drones for use in Ukraine and brutally cracks down on domestic political protests.

Details: Iran would agree not to enrich uranium beyond its current production level of 60 percent purity. It would also halt lethal attacks on American contractors in Syria and Iraq by its proxies, expand its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors and refrain from selling ballistic missiles to Russia, Iranian officials said.

Reciprocity: Iran would in return expect the U.S. to avoid tightening sanctions that were already choking its economy; to not seize oil-bearing foreign tankers, as it most recently did in April; and to not seek new punitive resolutions at the U.N. or the International Atomic Energy Agency for its nuclear activity.

At least six people were killed overnight in Russian aerial attacks across Ukraine, including in one far from the front lines in the southern port city of Odesa, where a missile hit a warehouse, Ukrainian officials said.

In the eastern city of Kramatorsk, missile attacks left two people dead and two others injured early on Wednesday, and in nearby Kostyantynivka, one person was killed and another injured. Separately, in the northeastern Sumy region of Ukraine near the border with Russia, six people traveling in a vehicle were shot dead by Russian forces, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.

As Ukrainian cities weathered these attacks, Kyiv’s counteroffensive plodded on with no major breakthroughs. In its daily update, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said fighting was underway in several villages in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia.

In other news from the war:

  • Russian soldiers left graffiti in a bar in a once-occupied Ukrainian village. “It doesn’t count as a war crime if you had fun,” one wrote, above a smiley face.


An effort to resolve a longstanding and bitter dispute over a plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary received a major blow yesterday after opposition leaders said they were withdrawing from talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government for at least a month.

The announcement was prompted by a move from Netanyahu to disrupt what was usually a routine vote in Parliament to choose members of the committee that selects new judges. This was seen by the opposition as a backdoor effort to enact part of the judicial overhaul without social consensus. Lawmakers called for an end to the compromise negotiations and a return to mass protests.

Context: For over two months, Netanyahu’s representatives have been engaged in private negotiations with the opposition about a potential compromise, mediated by President Isaac Herzog.

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At least 16 people died this month during clashes in the West African nation of Senegal between the police and supporters of a leading opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko.

Elian Peltier, our West Africa correspondent, spoke to grieving families and obtained evidence showing that several victims died of gunshot wounds, raising questions about the police’s use of force. He spoke about his reporting with Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer in Johannesburg.

Senegal has been a stable country in a volatile region. What does the violence say about the country’s stability right now?

Elian: The interior minister justified the use of force as a necessity to protect Senegal, which he called an “island of stability in a troubled region.” The government labeled protesters as rioters and said that the death toll could have been much worse had the police not shown restraint. On the ground at funerals in Dakar’s disadvantaged suburbs, it was a completely different story. There, the feeling is that the state killed a brother, a son, a nephew, a neighbor, a friend.

Are tensions easing?

The situation is calmer now, but there are definitely concerns that this could get out of hand as the presidential election, scheduled for February, gets closer. Some are optimistic and believe that Senegal will resolve this crisis just like it has resolved others. Others are more pessimistic and wonder if the country hasn’t reached a point of no return.

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