Iran official upbeat over nuclear talks, top delegate cautious 

The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seen at the IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner


May 25, 2021

DUBAI (Reuters) -Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday he was optimistic over Tehran reaching an agreement soon at talks with world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, although Iran's top negotiator cautioned that serious issues remained.

The comments came ahead of the latest round of talks, held on Tuesday in Vienna, where Iran and global powers have negotiated since April, to work on steps that Tehran and Washington must take on sanctions and nuclear activities to return to full compliance with the nuclear pact.

"General agreements have been reached on major disputes. On the lifting of sanctions, the remaining cases are very minor, and given the negotiation process, we are optimistic about resolving the remaining minor and practical cases," Rabiei told a news conference streamed on a state-run website.

Iran's top negotiator, Abbas Araqchi struck a more cautious stance in comments to state TV.

"There are still serious and important issues that need to be resolved," he said. "Today we will start the negotiations again and we hope that during the few days of talks, God willing, we will be able to reach the final solutions."

On his way to the talks, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Twitter: "The latest round of talks was constructive and saw meaningful progress. But much work still needs to be done."

Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - the remaining parties to the deal - held a meeting on Tuesday, Iranian media said without giving further details.

Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018, prompting Iran tosteadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear programmedesigned to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb - anambition Tehran denies.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions on oil, shipping, petrochemicals, insurance and the central bank had been dealt with in the talks, though European diplomats said success was not guaranteed and very difficult issues remained.

U.S. sanctions are likely to be a major issue in campaigning for Iran's presidential election on June 18.

State TV reported on Tuesday that Iran's election watchdog had approved the candidacy of seven hopefuls including hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi in the election. Hardliners say Washington cannot be trusted to respect any nuclear accord.

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