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US hopes Iran will hold direct talks on nuclear program

Nominated Secretary of State Antony Blinken(R) participates as US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24, 2020. - US President-elect Joe Biden introduced November 24, 2020 a seasoned national security team he said was prepared to resume US leadership of the world after the departure of President Donald Trump. "It's a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure," Biden said, introducing his picks for secretary of state, national security advisor, intelligence chief, and other key cabinet jobs"It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Biden said. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken(R) on November 24, 2020 [CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that his country hopes that Iran will accept Washington's offer to hold direct talks over its nuclear program.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Blinken said Washington's patience is not endless with regards to Iran.

The US official's statements come as both Tehran and Washington insist that the other side takes the first step to reactivate the 2015 nuclear agreement which former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from in 2018.

Earlier on Monday, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said Tehran has not received direct or indirect contacts from the United States regarding the nuclear agreement or other files.

Khatibzadeh added that any meetings between Tehran and Washington are subject to the US changing its policy of maximum pressure.

READ: US lawmakers urge Biden to hold broad Iran talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif also stressed on Monday the need to lift economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran before discussing the issue of Iran's nuclear obligations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told its member states on Monday that Iran has started enriching uranium with a third set of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground plant at Natanz.

"On 7 March 2021, the Agency verified at FEP that: Iran had begun feeding natural UF6 into the third cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges," it said in a report.

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