VIENNA - The United Nations nuclear watchdog and Iran may have made headway in talks on Tehran's disputed atomic activities but important points remain to be settled before a deal can be clinched, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Both the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran said progress was achieved at a meeting last Thursday towards an agreement the IAEA says would allow it to resume a long-stalled inquiry into suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state.

The IAEA, in a note to member states obtained by Reuters, said it "expects to be able to finalize" the framework accord on how to conduct its investigation in a new round of discussions in Tehran on January 16 and then to start implementing it.

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