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[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel on welcomed a framework deal agreed between Iran and world powers on Thursday, saying the international community had never "been so close to an agreement preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons".
The outline agreement aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear drive was clinched after marathon talks in Switzerland and marks a major breakthrough in a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West, which has long feared Tehran wants to build an atomic bomb.
"We have never been so close to a deal preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons," Dr Merkel said in a statement.
Her spokesman Christiane Wirtz added that Dr Merkel had spoken with US President Barack Obama and that both leaders "hailed the results of the negotiations" with Iran, secured after days of talks in the Swiss town of Lausanne.
The so-called P5+1 group - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany - hope that the deal will make it virtually impossible for Iran to make nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian programme.