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Iran’s top negotiator due in Qatar for new round of talks to remove US sanctions

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 chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (file photo)

Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is due in the Qatari capital of Doha to resume stalled talks on the removal of sanctions, days after the European Union foreign policy chief visited Tehran to break an impasse between the parties to the deal.

According to a source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Bagheri Kani is scheduled to arrive in Doha later on Tuesday.

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, also headed to Qatar on Monday for the resumption of indirect discussions with Tehran about ways to revive the agreement.

The Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was ditched by former US President Donald Trump in May 2018 followed by the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran.

After the US withdrawal, Iran adopted a policy of strategic patience to give the remaining parties ample time to secure its contractual interests. However, as their efforts proved to be a failure in the face of Washington’s pressure campaign, Iran began to reduce its nuclear commitments in a legal move stipulated within the JCPOA.

Since last April, several rounds of negotiations have been held in the Austrian capital to restore the JCPOA. However, two months-long pauses have occurred so far, with the latest expected to be broken in Doha.

Iran has repeatedly cited Washington’s indecisiveness as the reason behind the protraction of the talks, as a number of key issues remain unresolved, ranging from the removal of all post-JCPOA sanctions to the provision of guarantees by the American side that it will not leave the deal again.

On Sunday, Iran’s Nour News, affiliated with the country’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said a fresh round of talks on the removal of anti-Tehran sanctions would be most likely convened in Doha.

During a weekly presser on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed that the talks will be hosted by “a Persian Gulf country,” without providing more details.

The new round of talks will come just a few days after European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, visited Tehran seeking to break the impasse.

In a joint press conference with the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Saturday, Borrell said that a deal with Iran should ensure that Tehran will reap “full benefits, full economic benefits of the agreement,” while addressing the concerns of the international community about non-proliferation.

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