We will continue serious engagement in Vienna talks to reach good deal, says Iran’s top negotiator

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)
Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs and lead negotiator at the Vienna talks, Ali Bagheri Kani, speaks with reporters in Vienna.

Iran’s chief negotiator to the Vienna talks on the removal of anti-Iran sanctions says the Iranian side will continue its intensive and serious engagement in negotiations with representatives of the P4+1 group of countries in the Austrian capital in order to work out a good agreement.

“This afternoon I held a constructive & fruitful meeting with Russian & Chinese chief negotiators. We shared ideas about how to proceed & also coordinated our positions about several issues,” Ali Bagheri Kani wrote in a post published on his Twitter page on Sunday evening.

“We will continue our intensive & serious engagement to reach a good deal,” added Bagheri Kani, who serves as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs.

Earlier, Bagheri Kani said the general atmosphere in the ongoing Vienna negotiations is very serious, adding that he is optimistic that a final agreement would be reached.

“The atmosphere in the negotiations is very serious and this atmosphere has governed the talks since we arrived here ... but at the same time, there is mutual respect and the overall view is that both sides want to clinch an agreement,” he said in an interview with Iran’s IRIB.

Bagheri Kani added that Iran and the five remaining signatories to the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are holding talks on a host of issues during the seventh round of the Vienna negotiations and have reached agreements on some of them, though a comprehensive agreement has not been yet reached on many issues.

Russian envoy: I was misinterpreted

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s lead negotiator to the talks, has blasted the distortion of his remarks about the negotiations in the Austrian capital.

“Many diplomats don’t like to give interviews in order to be on the safe side. Probably they are right,” lamented the Russian diplomat in a tweet on Sunday night.

“This evening I was in rush but provided comments to journalists at their request. I was misinterpreted. Be aware that I assessed positively, not negatively the position of Iran,” he clarified.

Ulyanov’s tweet came after a London-based Persian language news network quoted him as saying: “So far, what we have witnessed during the negotiations is a wasting of time by the Iranian side.”

The Persian language network later deleted the tweet that contained Ulyanov’s distorted remarks, but thus far has failed to offer any explanation or apology.

The JCPOA was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump in May 2018. Trump then targeted Iran’s economy with what he called a “maximum pressure” campaign, which failed to compel Iran to negotiate a “new deal.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA – Germany, Britain, France, Russia, and China – began the talks in the Austrian capital in April with the aim of removing the sanctions after the US, under President Joe Biden, voiced willingness to return to the agreement.

During the seventh round of the Vienna talks, the first under President Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran presented two draft texts which address, separately, the removal of US sanctions and Iran’s return to its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. Tehran also said it was preparing a third draft text on the verification of the sanctions removal.

Prior to and in the midst of the fresh round of talks, American and European diplomats voiced strong pessimism about the prospects of the talks, claiming Iran was not serious.

The Americans, in the meantime, have said they will not remove all the sanctions that they slapped on Iran after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA. They have also declined to provide guarantees that Washington will not leave the JCPOA again, once it is accepted back into the deal.


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