The EU envoy responsible for coordinating talks on relaunching the Iran nuclear deal, Enrique Mora, met Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri in Tehran on Thursday, the Iranian ministry said.
The talks come a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of “other options” if diplomacy fails, as his visiting Israeli counterpart reserved the right to use force.
The 2015 nuclear deal, which gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities, has been on life support since 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew.
Trump has reimposed crippling sanctions while Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for civilian use only, has gradually rolled back its own commitments.
Mora’s trip to Tehran comes amid growing pressure from EU countries as well as the United States to quickly resume talks on Washington’s return to the deal.
Iran’s foreign ministry said Mora’s visit “follows consultations between the two sides on issues of mutual concern, in particular Iran-EU relations, Afghanistan and the nuclear deal.”
Bagheri, in charge of Iran’s nuclear dossier, tweeted that the meeting would include discussions on “removing cruel sanctions”.
– ‘Other options’ –
US President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has signaled his willingness to revert to the nuclear deal.
Talks were held earlier this year in Vienna between Iran and the other parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – with indirect US participation .
Talks have been suspended since the June elections in Iran led to a change of president.
New president Ebrahim Raisi – a former ultra-conservative chief magistrate – is said to be less ready than his predecessor Hassan Rouhani to make concessions to the West in the name of a deal.
Iran has repeatedly said it is ready to resume talks “soon”, but no date has yet been announced.
Blinken told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped the talks with Iran would be successful, but warned that “the trail that remains for us to do so is getting shorter and shorter.”
Referring to the threat of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to use force, Blinken said without further details: “We are ready to look to other options if Iran does not change course. .
Tehran is seeking European guarantees that there will be no repeat of Trump’s unilateral withdrawal.
Mora attended Raisi’s inauguration in August, drawing criticism from the EU of Israel, a fierce critic of the nuclear deal with its nemesis Iran.
str-sk / fz / kir