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At a time when tensions between Iran and the West are elevated and the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal hangs in the balance, a forthcoming athletic encounter resembling what pundits call “ping-pong diplomacy” is revitalizing hopes that there are still opportunities for narrowing gaps between the two sides. There have been tectonic ups and downs in the timeline of Iran-US relations since the much-hyped tourney 24 years ago, including the first direct negotiations between the two states that preceded the signing of the Iran nuclear deal.