US says Brussel meeting ‘not necessary’ for Iran nuclear talks

Washington does not think negotiations in Belgium are necessary before the resumption of indirect talks with Iran over reviving the nuclear deal in Austria, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday. Iran has said it will hold discussions with the European Union (UN) in the coming days on the issues raised in Tehran.

A senior EU official said last week Iran was not ready yet to return to actual talks with world powers over reviving its 2015 nuclear program and related U.S. sanctions but could discuss with the EU in Brussels texts from when negotiations ended in June.

After initially suggesting optimism that preparatory talks in the Belgian capital could take place soon, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell played down the possibility on Monday and dismissed Iranian reports of discussions planned for Thursday this week.

“To be clear, we do not think it is necessary,” Price told reporters at a news briefing when asked about the possibility of a meeting in Brussels.

“The destination we seek is in Vienna, not an intermediate step in Brussels,” he noted, adding the United States its allies and partners involved in the Iran deal agreed that the indirect talks in Vienna “should resume as soon as possible.”

Earlier on Monday, Iranian hardline President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran backs talks with six major powers that are result-oriented.

“We are serious about result-oriented negotiations…If Americans are serious, they should remove unjust sanctions on Iran,” Raisi told state TV.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has stated the Thursday talks between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri and EU official Enrique Mora in Tehran were good and constructive.

Talking to reports during his weekly briefing on Monday, Khatibzadeh added that Bagheri conveyed Iran’s message to the coordinator of the negotiations and the two sides agreed to continue talks in Brussels in the next few days.  

He noted that this agreement was bilateral. 

Khatibzadeh said in Brussels, Iran and the other parties must hold talks over the challenges and obstacles they failed to resolve in Vienna. 

Khatibzadeh added that the talks will be pursued by the Foreign Ministry and the members of the negotiating team will be introduced. 

He noted that the meeting in Brussels will be the continuation of the talks over issues raised in Tehran. 

Khatibzadeh said the continuation of talks by Iran is a final decision, adding that Iran insists all sides return to full compliance with the nuclear deal unconditionally and under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and all anti-Iran sanctions be lifted. 

He also referred to the Joe Biden administration’s failure to make good on its promise to go down a different path than that taken by former US president Donald Trump.

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