Iran enters a second day of talks with world powers on Saturday no closer to resolving a nuclear dispute that has led to sanctions on its oil exports and talk of a new Middle East war.
The final day of negotiations is unlikely to achieve more than a willingness to keep talking, after Iran responded on Friday to a limited offer to ease sanctions with a proposal of its own that puzzled Western diplomats and which Russia said raised more questions than answers.
With all sides aware that a breakdown in diplomacy could move the decade-old standoff a step closer to war, no one in the Kazakh city of Almaty was talking about abandoning diplomatic efforts. But an actual deal was as far away as ever.
"We had a substantive exchange. But there is still a wide gulf between the parties. We are considering how we move on from here," said one Western diplomat after five hours of talks.