EU official sees Iran nuclear deal in next round of talks
The European Union’s envoy responsible for coordinating talks on relaunching the Iran nuclear deal said on Wednesday he believed a deal would be reached in the next round of talks starting next week, but d other high-level diplomats have said that “the toughest decisions lie ahead”.
“I am sure that the next round will be the one in which we finally reach an agreement,” Enrique Mora, chief coordinator of the talks, told reporters as the fifth round of indirect US-Iran negotiations ended on Wednesday.
However, senior British, French and German diplomats, among the major powers that struck the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, have been more cautious.
“We have continued to make progress and important parts of a future agreement have now been fleshed out, but the most difficult decisions lie ahead. We have of course worked on the basis that nothing is agreed (until ‘that) everything is agreed,’ the group of diplomats, known as E3, said in a statement.
“Together we understand that time is not on anyone’s side. The time for decision is approaching. We will meet again next week,” they added.
Two diplomats said the talks, which began in April and are in their fifth round, are expected to be suspended for a week, to resume on Thursday, June 10, although this has not been frozen.
Such a timeline would only leave eight days to reach a pact before Iran’s June 18 presidential election, which is expected to inaugurate an uncompromising president. Some delegates said that while an agreement is possible by then, that timetable seems increasingly unlikely.
Mora presented his optimistic assessment after a meeting of the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany – as well as the EU in a format known as the Joint Commission.
Such meetings ended indirect talks between Iran and the United States on returning the two countries to full compliance with the 2015 agreement. The United States abandoned the agreement in 2018, prompting Iran to start violating its terms a year later.
The EU chairs the joint committee meetings in the basement of a luxury hotel and leads the diplomatic shuttle between Iranian envoys and a US delegation based in another luxury hotel across the road. Iran refuses to hold direct talks with Washington.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said the obstacles to resuming the deal were complicated but not insurmountable.
“The differences have reached a point where everyone thinks these differences are not insoluble,” Abbas Araqchi told Iranian state television ahead of the meeting. “But the details are important and Iran’s firm positions must be respected.”
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters that U.S. chief negotiator Rob Malley would be back in Washington soon and suggested talks move slowly.
“Some progress has been made,” she told reporters. “It won’t be a quick or easy process.”
The Iranian government spokesman denied on Tuesday that negotiations were at a standstill with the June 18 presidential election in the Islamic Republic in less than three weeks.
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made up of 35 countries, is holding a quarterly meeting next week, in which a number of delegates to the nuclear talks are expected to attend.
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