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U.S. and Iran to hold indirect talks next week in Vienna to look into returning to compliance with nuclear deal

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The announcement of the talks to revive the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came after a video conference of the  JCPOA’s Joint Commission chaired by the EU as coordinator.

According to Politico.eu, quoting a senior EU official, the Vienna talks are expected to concentrate solely on the nuclear deal’s implementation and will not extend to other issues never addressed by the JCPOA, such as Iran’s backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Tehran’s ballistic missiles program or its regional malign activities.

The United States and Iran have agreed to hold indirect talks next week in Vienna to discuss a return to compliance with the 2015  nuclear deal, the U.S. State Department said Friday.

The negotiations to bring both countries into compliance with the agreement will include what Iran must do about curtailing nuclear enrichment and any needed steps by the U.S. to lift economic sanctions the Trump administration imposed after leaving the agreement in 2018, a U.S. State Department spokesman said.

“We have agreed to participate in talks with our European, Russian and Chinese partners to identify the issues involved in a mutual return to compliance,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “These remain early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead. But we believe this is a healthy step forward.”

“We do not anticipate presently that there will be direct talks between the United States and Iran through this process, though the United States remains open to them,” Price added.

Senior officials from all participants in the nuclear deal —Iran, France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, China and the European Union, as well as U.S. officials—will gather in Vienna.

The announcement of the talks to revive the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came after a video conference of the  JCPOA’s Joint Commission chaired by the EU as coordinator.

The Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear agreement. It was chaired, on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, by the EU’s External Service Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers/Political Directors.

A statement issued following the meeting said: ‘’Participants agreed to resume this session of the Joint Commission in Vienna next week, in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups. In this context, the coordinator will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States.’’

The statement added: ‘’In line with the joint ministerial statement of 21 December participants recognised the prospect of a full return of the US to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort.  Participants also emphasised their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation.’’

Iran has said that it would resume its own compliance with the JCPOA once the lifting of sanctions – imposed by former U.S. President Trump after he left the agreement – has been verified. The U.S. in turn has demanded that Iran return to full compliance with its obligations under the deal.

According to Politico.eu, quoting a senior EU official, the Vienna talks are expected to concentrate solely on the nuclear deal’s implementation and will not extend to other issues never addressed by the JCPOA, such as Iran’s backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, ballistic missiles program or its regional malign activities.

‘’We are going to talk about nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to a compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. We will definitely say that sanction relief steps that the U.S. would need to take in order to return to that compliance as well will be up for discussion,’’ the State Department said.

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