Iran, world powers to hold nuclear talks in Vienna on Tuesday

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ministers and officials meet during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna

PARIS (Reuters) – Representatives of Iran and world powers will meet next Tuesday in Vienna to discuss the troubled 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian and European officials said after holding virtual talks on Friday aimed at reviving the accord.

Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain – all parties to the 2015 deal – discussed on Friday the possible return of the United States to the agreement and how to ensure its full and effective implementation by all sides.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a senior negotiator in the talks, told Iranian TV that the participants had agreed to meet in person in Vienna on Tuesday after “frank and serious” talks.

Two European diplomatic sources also confirmed the meeting.

The Biden administration has been seeking to engage Iran in talks about both sides resuming compliance with the deal. Under that accord, U.S. and other economic sanctions on Tehran were removed in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program to make it harder to develop a nuclear weapon – an ambition Tehran denies.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran, after waiting more than a year, to violate some of the pact’s nuclear restrictions in retaliation.

The United States and Iran have yet to agree even to meet about reviving the deal and are communicating indirectly via European nations, Western officials say.

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Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. atomic watchdog said that Friday’s talks had been businesslike and would continue.

“The impression is that we are on the right track but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. The stakeholders seem to be ready for that,” Mikhail Ulyanov said on Twitter.

The meeting will happen in the middle of an Easter lockdown in the Austrian capital aimed at easing pressure on hospitals from rising coronavirus cases.

Vienna and two nearby provinces have been hit hard by a more infectious variant of the virus, prompting them to close non-essential shops and reintroduce all-day restrictions on movement from April 1 until April 11.

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