US delegation to return to Vienna talks over weekend

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and his delegation are scheduled to travel to Austria over the weekend to join the remaining signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the new round of talks on the removal of American sanctions against Iran. 

“We continue to believe that a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is possible,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday.

“That is why we are returning for the next iteration of talks – the continuation of the seventh round in Vienna," he added. 

The comments by Price come a day after Washington imposed more sanctions on a number of Iranian officials and entities, accusing them of committing human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman denounced the new sanctions, reiterating that the intensification of anti-Iran measures reveals that Washington is not sincere in talks.

“Even amid Vienna talks, US cannot stop imposing sanctions against Iran,” Saeed Khatibzadeh made the remarks in a post on his Twitter account late on Tuesday.

“Washington fails to understand that 'maximum failure' & a diplomatic breakthrough are mutually exclusive. Doubling down on sanctions won't create leverage — and is anything but seriousness & goodwill,” he added.

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA held six rounds of talks in the Austrian capital before the inauguration of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi with the aim of removing the sanctions after the US, under President Joe Biden, voiced willingness to return to the agreement that was unilaterally left by former US President Donald Trump in May 2018.

After a five-month hiatus, envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — began the seventh round of talks on November 29.

At the talks, the first under President Raeisi, the Iranian delegation presented two detailed draft texts: one on the removal of US sanctions and the other on Iran’s return to its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.

The five-day intensive negotiations ended on December 3 after the diplomats returned to their capitals for more consultations.

Iran’s chief negotiator to the Vienna talks Ali Bagheri-Kani announced on Tuesday that the negotiating sides are set to start a new round of talks on December 9.

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