US leads new crunch talks on Iranian nuclear deal

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led crunch talks with European foreign ministers on Saturday aimed at charting a way forward in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The new talks came amid a three-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers in the northern English city of Liverpool that is expected to result in a joint call for Tehran to curb its nuclear ambitions and grasp the opportunity of the continuing negotiations in Vienna.

World powers and Iran resumed those negotiations last week, with the aim of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

That deal collapsed in 2018 when the US pulled out, and Iran began enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by the JCPOA.

A European source said negotiators were working from texts discussed five months ago, while Iranian officials said they were sticking to a tough stance from last week.

The indirect US-Iranian talks, in which diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance with the accord.

“Secretary Blinken had a productive meeting with his counterparts from Germany, France and the UK in Liverpool.

They discussed the JCPOA talks and our way forward,” the State Department said on Saturday.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi insisted on Saturday that Tehran wanted to revive the deal in the negotiations in the Austrian capital.—Reuters

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