Oct 18, 2021 09:05 UTC
  • Iran says talks on removal of sanctions to resume Thursday

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri-Kani will travel to Brussels on Thursday to continue talks with the European Union’s Deputy Foreign Policy Chief Enrique Mora based on an agreement reached in Tehran last week.

According to Press TV, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference in Tehran Monday that the Brussels meeting between the two sides is the continuation of talks held in Tehran last Thursday, which he termed as “good and constructive”.

He said the meeting could be an “effective step forward” to resume stalled talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining signatories to bring back the US to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The six rounds of talks in Vienna, which started in April, have failed to produce any breakthrough so far. Khatibzadeh pointed to “challenges” in the talks, in a veiled reference to Washington's refusal to take any meaningful step. 

He emphasized that Tehran has set “no pre-conditions” for the resumption of Vienna talks, but stressed that the talks should not be “for the sake of talks” or amounting to “wastage of time”.

Khatibzadeh said Baqeri, who is likely to lead Iran’s new negotiating team in Vienna, will publicly discuss issues about the challenges and obstacles in the talks.

The spokesman reiterated that the US must uphold its commitments as stipulated in the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the world powers in 2015, noting that no practical steps have been taken so far by Washington.

He said the Joe Biden administration is continuing the former administration’s "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran and that there has been “no change in its policies”.

In response to a question about Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s statement made on Sunday that the US must take “serious steps” before the resumption of talks in Vienna, Khatibzadeh said the remarks are an “expression of logic” and do not imply any message to the Americans.

He called on the US to “reconsider its policy” toward Iran and “show it in practice” by removing the draconian sanctions and returning to the deal as well as guaranteeing that the agreement won’t be breached again.

Pointing to the futility of the US sanctions, the spokesman said Washington thought the sanctions would bring about the collapse of Iran’s economic system but the country has not only been “able to absorb the pressure” but the gross domestic product (GDP) has also seen a positive tilt this year.

‘Monitoring Afghanistan closely’

Responding to a question on the recent turn of events in neighboring Afghanistan, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Tehran is “closely monitoring” the developments in his eastern neighbor.

Khatibzadeh announced that the Iranian government will be hosting a one-day conference on Afghanistan in Tehran next week, which will see the participation of foreign ministers from the regional countries.

He also confirmed Iran’s participation in the upcoming conference on Afghanistan to be hosted by Moscow later this week, at the level of special representatives.

Afghanistan has been rocked by a series of bombings in recent weeks, from Kunduz in the north to Kandahar in the south as well as the capital Kabul, claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.

While the bombing on a mosque in Kunduz claimed more than 150 lives, a similar terrorist attack on a mosque in Kandahar resulted in more than 60 deaths, all members of the minority Shia community.

Khatibzadeh said Iran is “in contact” with all parties in Kabul and stressed that the Taliban government must ensure security of all Afghans, including the minority Hazara Shias.

He urged the international community to respond seriously to the escalation of violence in Afghanistan, saying Iran is committed to preventing the country from “entering the cycle of violence and terror” again.