Iran’s top negotiator: ‘Good progress’ made, Vienna talks to continue after a break of few days

Iran’s lead negotiator at the negotiations in the Austrian capital to remove the US sanctions says good progress has been made in Vienna this week, noting that the high-ranking talks will continue after a short break.

In a tweet on Friday morning, Ali Bagheri Kani said he met with EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora, who coordinates the Vienna talks, on Thursday, after consultations with other delegations.

“Following our consultations with other delegations, yesterday, @enriquemora_& I met to take stock of the situation & discuss the way forward,” Bagheri Kani wrote.

“We have made good progress this week,” he stated, adding, “We will convene a Joint Commission today & will continue talks after a break of a few days.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear agreement of 2015 resumed talks in Vienna on November 29 after a five-month pause, marking the first round of negotiations under President Ebrahim Raeisi’s administration and the seventh overall.

The Islamic Republic maintains that its presence at the talks is intended to have the US sanctions removed, which would, in turn, secure a US return to the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US, which is not allowed to directly participate in the talks as a result of its 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA, claims that it is willing to undo the withdrawal and repeal its “maximum pressure” policy against Iran.

Iran argues that the onus is on Washington to return to the nuclear deal after removing its illegal sanctions and offering guarantees that it will not exit the pact again.

‘Participants more or less relaxed’

Several rounds of consultations were held on Thursday on the sidelines of the Vienna talks as diplomats from the participating countries prepared to leave Vienna.

Russia’s top negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, offered brief comments about the consultations via Twitter on Thursday night.

He said the original JCPOA signatories with the exception of Iran held a meeting earlier, adding, “The participants – both optimists and skeptics – were more or less relaxed. It seems to be a good sign.”

He also said the JCPOA participants, without Iran, separately met for an informal meeting to discuss a number of issues on which “our views and assessments do not necessarily coincide.”

“It was a useful exchange of views,” the Russian diplomat noted.

According to Ulyanov, the delegations of Russia, China, and Iran also met once again on Thursday.

“This trilateral format proves to be very useful in the context of the #ViennaTalks on #JCPOA,” he added.

Bagheri Kani and Ulyanov’s positive assessment of the progress made in the Austrian capital came days after they criticized the trio of European participants – France, Britain, and Germany – for playing a blame game and adopting illogical positions instead of playing a serious, constructive role.

In recent weeks, the so-called E3 has intensified pressure on Iran to return to full compliance with its nuclear obligations under the deal.

In a joint statement on Monday, they once again blamed the Islamic Republic for the current situation, warning that the JCPOA will very soon become an “empty shell.”

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