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Iran, EU agree to resume Vienna nuclear talks 'in days'

The top diplomats of Iran and the European Union expressed readiness to resume stalled nuclear talks in Vienna, signaling an end to a three-month deadlock.

The top diplomats of Iran and the European Union on Saturday expressed readiness to resume stalled nuclear talks in Vienna, signaling an end to a three-month deadlock, Anadolu Agency reports.

Addressing a joint presser following their talks in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the eighth round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear accord will resume in "coming days."

Amir-Abdollahian said the two officials had "lengthy but positive discussions" and both agreed that negotiations between Iran and P4+1 countries should be put back on the track.

He described the talks as "detailed, deep and precise" with focus on Iran's demands, adding that any issue obstructing Iran's economic benefits will "not be acceptable."

Iran's top diplomat said Borrell had recently asked him over the phone about breaking the deadlock, after an anti-Iran resolution was passed at the UN nuclear watchdog's board of governors meeting, and in response Amir-Abdollahian invited him for talks in Tehran.

Borrell, for his part, said his trip to Tehran had one important objective – to break the deadlock in the Vienna talks, reduce tensions and create fresh impetus and opportunity to put the stalled talks back on track.

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"The coming days really mean the coming days," he asserted, adding that both sides needed to speed up the work.

Borrell is scheduled to meet Iran's top security official Ali Shamkhani later on Saturday.

Borrell's visit marks his first to Tehran since the government of Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi came to power last year. His last visit was in February 2020, weeks after the assassination of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike.

On Thursday, Borrell and his deputy Enrique Mora met with US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley in Brussels.

Mora shared a photo of the meeting on Twitter, saying they held "in-depth conversation about JCPOA (nuclear deal) and regional perspectives in the wider Middle East," adding that Malley "reiterated firm US commitment to come back to the deal."

Talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have been stalled amid key disagreements between Tehran and Washington, including on the de-listing of IRGC and guarantees that the future US administration won't leave the deal again.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the landmark deal in May 2018, which was followed by reinstatement of sanctions on Iran under the "maximum pressure" campaign.

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In response, Iran has since May 2019 significantly ramped up its nuclear enrichment activities, from 3.67 percent stipulated in the deal to 60 percent.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a recent annual report urged Tehran to increase its cooperation with the agency while seeking access to two "undeclared nuclear sites." It was followed by an anti-Iran resolution at the IAEA board of governors meeting, which prompted Iran to switch off the agency's surveillance cameras at its nuclear sites, inflaming tensions.

These recent developments, according to experts, have further complicated efforts to reach a deal in Vienna, fueling more distrust between Iran and the US.

Earlier this month, in a phone conversation with Borrell, Amir-Abdollahian said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi's visit to Israel ahead of the watchdog's meeting went against the agency's principles of observing impartiality and maintaining its technical and professional status.

Amir-Abdollahian added that Iran was resolute on achieving a "good, strong and endurable" agreement with the five remaining parties to the JCPOA on the deal's revival and the removal of sanctions against Tehran.

European Union's top diplomat, for his part, said despite the diminishing prospect of reviving the 2015 deal, "extra effort" by all the parties involved can still lead to an agreement to salvage the accord.

On Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that Iran was serious about reaching a final and lasting agreement during the Vienna talks, provided the US acts "realistically."

"If the Americans act in a realistic manner, we are hopeful to reach a final agreement in the near future," he said in a joint presser with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Tehran.

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