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Vienna talks: Iran says strong agreement possible if Americans are ‘realistic’

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)
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province, Jan. 14, 2022. (File photo by Xinhua)

Iran’s foreign minister says that a good strong agreement can be reached on restoring the US-abandoned Iran deal through the Vienna talks if the American side is realistic.

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a phone conversation with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday, as he briefed his Chinese counterpart on the latest progress in the endeavors to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal.

“If the American side is realistic, we will finalize a good, strong, and lasting agreement with the support of all negotiating parties in Vienna,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

He said Iran stands ready to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible and resolve the final outstanding issues through consultation with related parties in order to work toward a good agreement.

Iran thanks China for playing a constructive role in the negotiations, the chief Iranian diplomat added, voicing hope that China will continue to provide support.

He also referred to his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying the Russian side stressed that it supports the removal of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran by playing a constructive role in the Vienna talks.

Amir-Abdollahian met Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday. After the meeting, the Iranian foreign minister said he was reassured that “Russia remains onboard for the final agreement in Vienna.”

The Iranian foreign minister visited Russia as speculations are running rampant in Western mainstream media outlets that Russia is hampering the conclusion of the talks in the Austrian capital.

“I am tired of speculations regarding the Russian position at the final stage of the #ViennaTalks,” Russia’s lead negotiator said via Twitter early on Wednesday. “Misunderstandings, misinterpretations and distortion of realities. The bottom line: conclusion of the agreement depends not on Russia, but on others, especially #US.”

The Vienna talks were paused on Friday so that the negotiators return to their respective capitals for further consultations to resolve a few outstanding issues that remain resolved.

All parties to the talks have publicly said that they are at the final stages of the negotiations. Washington said on Monday that the engaged parties are “close to the finish line.” Iran has urged the US to drop its “excessive demands” to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

The US unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and launched an abortive "maximum pressure" campaign of sanctions and threats. The Vienna talks aim to compel the US to fully honor the deal by removing all of its anti-Iran sanctions.

Iran says it seeks guarantees that the US would not leave the deal again. It also demands a removal of US sanctions in a verifiable manner.

China favors immediate conclusion of Vienna talks

During the Tuesday phone conversation, Wang said for his part that China always supports reaching an agreement on reviving the JCPOA and is open to and supportive of efforts to this end.

“China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Iran to push the settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue in a direction conducive to regional peace and stability,” he said.

He further said the Chinese side understands Iran’s legitimate concerns, supports Iran in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests, and opposes unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law.

Making a reference to the ongoing development of mutual relations, the Chinese foreign minister said Beijing attaches great importance to the expansion of interactions with Tehran and has no restriction on developing such ties.

Amir-Abdollahian also underlined the importance of Tehran-Beijing relations and the need to boost them, saying the administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi gives priority to the development of the ties.

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