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Sunday, December 5, 2021

EU plays down possibility of nuclear talks in Brussels this week


Qatar and Iran’s foreign ministers held a phone call to discuss areas of common concern this week.

The European Union said preparatory talks in Brussels to revive the Iran nuclear deal will not take place on Thursday despite earlier statements by Iranian officials, the AFP reported on Monday.

Iranian Lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeigui on Sunday said nuclear negotiations designed to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] would be held in Brussels on 21 October.
The talks, the first to take place under the new Ebrahim Raisi administration, were seen as a preparatory step towards discussions in Vienna, which were paused in June ahead of Iran’s presidential elections.

‘Preparatory’ Iran nuclear talks to resume in Brussels this week

However, commenting on the Brussels meeting, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said there was “hope” in having the meetings “in the days to come”, without confirming a specific date.

Indirect US-Iran talks kicked off in Vienna in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord following Washington’s withdrawal, with both sides expressing their readiness to restore the accord at the time.

The restoration of the JCPOA following the US withdrawal in 2018 has been a priority among members of the P4+1, with parties involved in the accord seeking the resumption of Vienna talks for months.

Meanwhile Iran and the US have been exchanging blame over the willingness to return to negotiations, with the former demanding that Washington lifts its sanctions on Tehran in order to resume discussions.

Speaking to Iran’s state television on Monday, President Raisi said the US should lift sanctions on his country to prove its seriousness about resuming the Vienna talks, which he said should be “goal-oriented”.

“The Islamic Republic is serious in this issue, we should see seriousness in the other party,” said Raisi.

Meanwhile, there have been growing concerns over Iran’s nuclear activity after it increased its uranium enrichment following various attacks on its nuclear sites, including one that targeted the Natanz facility.

Iran has blamed Israel for the assaults, which struck the Islamic Republic amid crucial talks in Vienna.

In Qatar, officials have been expressing its support for the resumption of negotiations to restore the JCPOA while offering to mediate between the US and Iran.

On Monday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in which the two officials discussed bilateral cooperation and the latest regional developments.

The phone call coincided with the US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley’s visit to the UAE, where he met with National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and  Presidential Advisor Anwar Gargash.

According to the US mission to the UAE, the diplomats discussed their “shared commitment to diplomatic solutions to regional security challenges, including Iran’s nuclear activities”.

Malley is scheduled to also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week to discuss the stalemate in the nuclear talks.

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