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Iran, US commence talks to revive nuclear accord

Iran and the US are beginning indirect talks in Vienna, Austria, aimed at bringing both countries back into full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal which the erstwhile Trump administration abandoned three years ago.

Iran has slowly overstepped the accord’s limits on its nuclear programme in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and its reimposition of crippling sanctions.

While Tehran has repeatedly rebuffed “direct and indirect negotiations” with its old foe, Washington said on Monday it expected the talks to be difficult.

Both countries say they do not foresee any early breakthrough.

“We are not optimistic nor pessimistic about the outcome of this meeting now, but we are confident that we are on the right track,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters.  “If America’s will, seriousness and honesty is proven, it could be a good sign for a better future for this agreement and ultimately its full implementation,” Mr. Rabiei said.

Later on Tuesday, US and Iranian officials will begin indirect talks in the Austrian capital, where the pact was originally reached in 2015. Officials from Britain, France and Germany, are expected to act as intermediaries.

Russia and China, the other parties to the 2015 pact, will also attend.

But adding fresh doubt to chances of a breakthrough, an Iranian official told Reuters: “Our agenda during the meeting will be removal of all US sanctions against Iran … as our supreme leader has said repeatedly, anything less than that will not be accepted by Tehran.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, has opposed any gradual easing of sanctions.

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