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Visiting EU Diplomats In Talks With U.S., Iranian Officials To Prepare Return To Nuclear Talks


EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel at the European Parliament in Strasbourg (file photo)

In a push to resume talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the European Union’s envoy charged with coordinating the negotiations met with Iranian officials in Tehran on October 14, as the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was in Washington to discuss the matter with his U.S. counterpart.

The nuclear accord, which offered Tehran the lifting of some international sanctions in exchange for a ramping down of its nuclear enrichment program under strict UN supervision, was left in tatters after the United States unilaterally pulled out of the pact in 2018.

The administration of then-President Donald Trump started reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, while Tehran has progressively rolled back its own commitments to the deal.

Indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran, via intermediaries from other parties to the accord -- Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia -- began in Vienna in April, but the talks were suspended following the June election of hard-dline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Amid mounting pressure from EU countries and the United States for a swift resumption of talks, visiting EU chief negotiator Enrique Mora met with Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri, who in charge of the nuclear file for Iran.

"I will raise the urgency" of resuming the talks, Mora tweeted before his arrival in Tehran.

Bagheri tweeted that the meeting would include talks about the "removal of cruel sanctions."

The EU spokesman on foreign affairs said Mora was in Iran underlining the "urgency of resuming discussions," adding: "We are awaiting the Iranians' response."

Peter Stano also said that Borrell was in Washington to discuss the nuclear accord with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who the previous day warned of "other options" if diplomacy fails.

"A meeting will be called if all parties are in agreement and are all ready," Stano said, adding that “there is an urgent need to resume discussions very soon."

U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has signaled a willingness to return to the nuclear deal, which was designed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said they were ready to resume talks "soon," but no date has yet been announced.

On October 13, Blinken expressed hope for the success of talks with Iran, but warned that "the runway that we have left to do that is getting shorter and shorter."

As his visiting Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, reserved the right to use force against Iran, Blinken told reporters: "We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn't change course."

He did not elaborate.

Tehran warned Israel in a letter to the UN Security Council chief on October 14 against “any miscalculation or military adventure targeting Iran and its nuclear program."

In the letter published by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, Iran's ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi accused Israel of taking its "provocative and adventurous threats...to alarming levels."

Israel has been engaged in a shadow war with Iran, targeting its military sites in Syria and carrying out a sabotage campaign against its nuclear program.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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