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Vienna talks underway: Iran’s top negotiator meets EU, Russian representatives

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 top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (R) meets European Union deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora in the Austrian capital of Vienna on January 27, 2022. (Photo by IRNA)

The eighth round of talks on removing anti-Iran sanctions is underway in the Austrian capital of Vienna, with the Islamic Republic’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani having met European Union deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora to discuss draft texts on guarantees and verification of the removal of the entire US bans.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported on Thursday that Bagheri Kani had arrived at the Palais Coburg in Vienna and held a meeting with Mora, who is in charge of coordinating sessions attended by delegates of the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany.

The talks on sanctions removal and draft texts began with a meeting between Iran's chief negotiator and the EU representative Enrique Mora, who is also European Union's deputy foreign policy chief, followed by bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Bagheri Kani also met with Russia's top negotiator to the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, who later confirmed it in a tweet and said, “The #ViennaTalks are underway. A meeting with the Head of delegation of #Iran Mr. A. Bagheri Kani.”

‘Talks already at an advanced stage’

In a separate tweet on Thursday, Ulyanov responded to allegations made by Bloomberg that he had estimated it would take more time to reach an agreement than he previously thought possible.

“A few important words were missed by Bloomberg. I said; if the #ViennaTalks continue at the current pace… I don’t rule out that the negotiations can be expedited through joint efforts of all participants. The talks are already at an advanced stage," he said. 

The eighth round of talks between Tehran and the remaining signatories to the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is focused on the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.

Iran has already ruled out the possibility of direct talks with the US, saying it might reconsider that position only if a good agreement is within reach to restore the landmark deal.

Iran and the remaining participants to the JCPOA have been holding talks in Vienna since April last year with the aim of reviving the deal by bringing the US into full compliance.

The US left the JCPOA in May 2018 under former president Donald Trump. The Vienna talks began on a promise by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, to rejoin the deal and repeal the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran. Biden, however, has so far failed to undo Trump’s own undoing of Barack Obama’s Iran policy, which led to the JCPOA in June 2015.

Due to the latest developments, many observers now believe that the talks are advancing at an optimal pace and if all sides act realistically, a final agreement could be achieved within a logical time interval.

Tehran has not allowed the US to attend the negotiations due to its withdrawal from the JCPOA and its failure to remove its anti-Iran sanctions. As a result, the other participants are conducting shuttle diplomacy between the two sides.

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