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Iran rules out informal meeting with US, EU on reviving nuclear deal

Saeed Khatibzadeh (right). (Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran has rejected holding an informal meeting with the United States and European powers to discuss ways to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, insisting that Washington must lift all its unilateral sanctions.

“Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries, which was proposed by the EU foreign-policy chief,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Iranian media.

Iranian officials have said Tehran was studying a proposal by European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell to hold an informal meeting with other parties to the nuclear pact and the United States, which reimposed sanctions on Iran after former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018.

Iran and the new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden have been at odds over who should take the first step to revive the accord. Iran insists the United States must first lift sanctions while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance with the deal, which it has been progressively breaching.

The announcement in Tehran was met with disappointment in Washington.

“While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,” a White House spokeswoman said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal.

She said Washington would be consulting with its P5+1 partners, the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, plus Germany — on the best way forward.