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Qatar named as site of indirect talks between Iran and US on nuclear deal

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says meeting will be held later this week, but doesn’t confirm location; UK, France, Germany to also join

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran, on April 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran, on April 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Qatar will host indirect talks between Iran and the US aimed at saving a crumbling 2015 nuclear deal, a media adviser to the Iranian negotiating team told the semi-official ISNA news agency, Reuters reported Monday

“Iran chose Qatar to host because it is our friend,” Mohammad Marandi said.

European-sponsored talks to revive the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have been stalled for months. The US participated indirectly in those negotiations.

The European Union’s top diplomat, in Tehran over the weekend, had said that talks would resume in the coming days in a Persian Gulf country.

EU policy chief Josep Borrell also indicated that participants will include the US and the three West European signatories to the JCPOA, Britain, France, and Germany. Other parties to the pact, China and Russia, who have participated in the Vienna talks, will not take part in the coming round.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday at a weekly press conference that talks will be held this week on ending US sanctions, but added that the exact date and location had not yet been finalized.

“One of the countries in the Persian Gulf will host talks and the negotiations will kick off this week,” he said according to Iranian media.

Khatibzadeh stressed that the talks will be indirect and will not include “the nuclear dimension” and only matters of dispute, according to the reports.

He noted that during his recent visit to Tehran, Borrell had transmitted to the Iranians the US position.

“I can confirm that some agreements on the content and the form on both issues have been reached, but it remains to be seen whether the Americans will show in practice that they will pass on Trump’s legacy and be a responsible member,” Khatibzadeh said according to the Mehr news agency.

“We proceeded to these negotiations with determination and seriousness, assuming no definite trust with the American side,” he said.

Khatibzadeh also confirmed that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian would head Monday to Turkey to participate in a summit of Caspian Sea states.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid harshly criticized Borrell for his decision to travel to Iran.

In a letter addressed to EU top diplomat, Lapid wrote Sunday that “this is a strategic mistake that sends the wrong message to Iran,” according to the Politico news site.

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy speaks during a meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Iran’s capital Tehran on June 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Israel is fiercely opposed to a return to the JCPOA, which it campaigned against at the time of its signing, viewing Iran as untrustworthy and unable to keep its commitments. The agreement offered Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Successive Israeli governments have warned for two decades that Iran was seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its program is peaceful.

The US, under the Trump administration, pulled out of the deal in 2018, citing the JCPOA limits as being inefficient to stop Iran from becoming nuclear-armed. Washington reimposed stiff sanctions and in response Iran has dropped many of its own commitments to the pact, ramping up uranium enrichment to levels beyond the limits that were set and bringing it close to the threshold for producing a nuclear bomb.

European talks in Vienna began in April last year but stalled in March amid differences between Tehran and Washington, notably over a demand by Iran to remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a US terror list.

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