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  1. Although there are weeks of negotiations ahead, and perhaps setbacks and new surprises, leaders of both parties are optimistic that their differences can be resolved.
  2. Although there are weeks of negotiations ahead, and perhaps setbacks and new surprises, leaders of both parties are optimistic that their differences could be resolved.

which modal verb is the most suitable here?

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  • You need to use are optimistic / can and were optimistic / could. Only the first sentence uses one of those pairs—so it's the only one that's grammatical. (But if the second sentence did use were optimistic, then could would be fine, if a little awkward because of the use of are weeks.) – Jason Bassford Sep 11 '18 at 8:54
  • is this a duplicate ell.stackexchange.com/questions/1458/… – WendyG Sep 11 '18 at 10:20

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