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Oil prices were flat to slightly higher on Monday after the latest talks between world powers and Iran to revive a nuclear deal ended without an agreement.

Brent crude futures for August settlement rose 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $73.61 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July delivery were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $71.42 a barrel.

Both benchmarks gained over the past four weeks on hopes that increased vaccinations will help lift travel demand during the summer driving season.

Iran and six world power negotiators postponed talks on Sunday to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and it was unclear when formal negotiations would resume.

“We are now closer to an agreement than ever before, but there is still a distance between us and the agreement, and bridging it is not an easy task,” Abbas Arakchi said in Vienna.

The pause in the talks came after Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner and fierce critic of the West, won Iran’s presidential election on Friday.

Raisi is subject to U.S. sanctions and Tehran insists they must be removed as part of an agreement to revive the pact.

Meanwhile, Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, expects oil prices to reach $80 per barrel as the energy market stabilizes.

“We are optimistic about the rise in prices, but we are counting on its stability,” expecting that “prices will exceed $70 and reach $80 per barrel”, Aseem Jihad, a spokesman for the oil ministry told Iraqi News Agency.


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