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Diplomats Report Progress In Iran Nuclear Talks In Vienna

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi arrives for closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna on May 19.

Senior diplomats from multiple countries have reported progress in talks to revive the 2015 accord on Iran’s nuclear weapons and persuade the United States to rejoin the landmark agreement.

Negotiators held a new round of discussions on May 19 in Vienna to try and find common ground between Tehran and Washington and renew the deal, which was put on hold in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there had been "concrete results" and that he had hope a resolution may come soon.

"I cannot predict how it will end up, because ultimately the results of the negotiations will be assessed again in the respective capitals and then approved or not," he said.

"But our goal is to achieve a result in the negotiations in the next two weeks and thus create the conditions for the U.S. to return to this agreement," he added. He did not give details of where progress had been made.

Enrique Mora, the EU official attending the talks, said he was "quite sure" an agreement would be reached as the negotiations adjourned for a week.

Russia's envoy, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Twitter that a deal was "within reach." Ulyanov said he hoped that next week would be the final round.

Because the United States is currently out of the deal, there is no American representation at the talks. But diplomats were shuttling between the Iranian side and a delegation from Washington that was present in Vienna.

Ahead of the May 19 talks, Iran's delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, acknowledged that there had been good progress, though several key issues needed further assessment.

The negotiations were focused on creating a road map for Washington to lift the sanctions that were reimposed by the Trump administration. The talks are also aimed at getting Tehran to reinstate restrictions on its nuclear program.

Under the accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran had pledged to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. But Trump called the pact flawed and said it needed to be renegotiated.

Iran reacted by enriching uranium to a greater purity, stockpiling more than allowed, and introducing more advanced centrifuges -- things that were blocked under the original deal.

Tehran also pushed the remaining parties in the deal -- France, Britain, Russia, and China -- for economic relief.

The pact is intended to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iranian officials have consistently denied Tehran is seeking such armaments, saying its nuclear ambitions are purely for civilian purposes.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said he wants to rejoin the deal, but that Iran needs to return to compliance.

When asked at the White House on May 7 if he thought Tehran was serious about the talks in Vienna, Biden said: "Yes, but how serious, and what they are prepared to do is a different story. But we're still talking."

With reporting by AP, apa, and Reuters
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