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Vienna talks: Iran reports ‘relative progress,’ says agreement can be reached if red lines met

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani (File photo)

Iran says “relative progress” has been made in the latest round of Vienna talks and that an agreement can be reached if Tehran’s red lines are met.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani reiterated Tehran’s long-standing position that it aims to reach a “sustainable and good agreement to remove the unjust sanctions imposed on Iran.”

He reported “relative progress” in the latest round of the talks, but noted that “Iran’s legitimate demands” have not yet been fully met.

Kan’ani added that discussions are underway in Tehran and that “additional opinions” on the European Union’s proposals would be submitted.

Negotiations have been held between Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – in the Austrian capital since April last year to restore the JCPOA, which was ditched by former US President Donald Trump in May 2018.

Four days of the talks culminated last Monday with a modified text on the table.

While the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claimed a “final text” had been reached, Iran emphasized it has conveyed its “initial response and reservations” on the draft text.

Kan’ani said consultations are ongoing at the highest level in Tehran, adding, “We are close to an agreement, but it is conditioned on the consideration of Iran’s red lines and the ensuring of the country’s main interests.”

While the parties have noted progress in the talks, the indecisiveness shown by Washington has prevented any significant breakthrough.

The talks began on the US administration of Joe Biden’s pledge to undo its predecessor’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and remove the sanctions Trump slapped on the Islamic Republic.

‘Serious progress in ties with Kuwait’

Commenting on the appointment of a new Kuwaiti ambassador to Iran after six years, Kan’ani said, “We are witnessing a serious development on the path towards the development of ties and cooperation between the two countries.”

He noted that Kuwait’s move could pave the way for further promotion of cooperation between Iran and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf.

Kuwait reduced diplomatic ties with Iran to the level of charges d’affaires in early January 2016.

That came following Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

No one allowed to make accusations against Iran

Elsewhere, Kan’ani also commented on some reports claiming a link between Iran and the attacker of Salman Rushdie, the author of a blasphemous anti-Islam book, saying, “We categorically and officially deny this.”

“No one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he asserted.

The Iranian spokesman noted that Rushdie’s supporters are the ones who should be blamed for the attack.

On Friday, a man rushed to the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in the US state of New York and stabbed Rushdie as he was being introduced. The attacker was arrested immediately after the attack.

Multiple witnesses said the attacker was able to reach Rushdie easily, running onstage and approaching him from behind.

Observers have hinted at a potential link between the incident and a conspiracy to foment Islamophobia in the West.

The Persian daily Javan on Sunday suggested that the attack on Rushdie may have been a plot hatched by the US.

“Maybe a young Muslim, who was not even born when Salman Rushdie wrote his satanic book, wanted revenge on him,” it said. “Another scenario is that the United States probably wants to spread Islamophobia around the world.”

For his part, Kan’ani reasoned that Rushdie exposed himself to a “popular outrage” when he insulted Islamic sanctities and crossed the red lines of over 1.5 billion Muslims as well as the followers of divine religions.

Rushdie was airlifted to the hospital with serious stabbing injuries. His condition is reportedly improving.

State Police identified the assailant as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from the nearby city of Fairview, New Jersey, noting that police are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine Matar’s motive.

On Saturday, he pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime.

Rushdie is the author of “The Satanic Verses”, a blasphemous novel about Islam published in 1988 which sparked Muslims’ outrage across the globe.

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