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An intriguing new figure is gaining prominence in the Iranian government just as regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria intensify and nuclear talks with the West move toward a Nov. 24 deadline.The newly prominent official is Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran's national security council. In interviews over the last few weeks, Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese, European and U.S. officials have all described Shamkhani as a rising political player.A European intelligence official agrees that Shamkhani may be "an honest broker" between Rouhani and Khamenei.Shamkhani's role in Maliki's ouster was described by two Iraqi officials.That gap is said to have narrowed considerably, with Iran suggesting it keep the roughly 9,400 it's now operating, and the U.S. hinting it might accept a cap of 4,000 centrifuges, for three to five years.
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