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West needs to ‘take certain decisions’ to reach a nuke deal: Iran

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VIENNA: Iran’s chief negotiator said, Western partners in the nuclear talks have to “take certain decisions” in order to reach an agreement.

“Being near the finish line is no guarantee to crossing it” and sealing an accord,” said Ali Bagheri Kani on Thursday.

“It requires extra caution, much perseverance, additional creativity and balanced approach to take the last step,” he added.

Iran on Wednesday urged Western powers to be “realistic” in the talks and said Bagheri Kani was returning to Tehran for consultations, suggesting a breakthrough in its discussions is not imminent.

Diplomats from parties involved in the negotiations have said they have entered a crucial stage, with a Russian envoy saying that the discussions are nearing a conclusion.

The deal on Iran’s nuclear programme is expected before the end of the week with some minor technical issues being discussed in Vienna, several Iranian officials have said on Tuesday.

Diplomats said a vague mention of other issues in a draft text of the agreement was a reference to the unfreezing billions of dollars in Iranian funds in South Korean banks, and the release of Western prisoners held in Iran.

Sources close to the negotiations have said a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States was expected soon.

The US-Iranian deal has been taking shape to revive the pact, abandoned in 2018 by then-US President Donald Trump, who also reimposed extensive sanctions on Iran.

The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers limited Tehran’s enrichment of uranium to make it harder for it to develop material for nuclear weapons, if it chose to, in return for a lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

While, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that expediting to reach an agreement in Vienna requires a serious will to make a realistic political decision by the Western parties to ensure Iran’s interests, especially the objective elimination, while sanctions are needed to reach a lasting agreement.

Amirabdollahian made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

The both sides discussed and exchanged views on some issues of common concern.

Regarding the talks on lifting sanctions on Iran in Vienna, the Iranian foreign minister said, “We have made good progress in these talks and the negotiating delegations in Vienna are working hard to reach a good agreement.”

At the same time, accelerating the agreement requires a serious will to make a courageous and realistic political decision  the Western sides to ensure Iran’s interests, especially the objective lifting of sanctions, to reach a lasting agreement, he added.

Amirabdollahian finally expressed hope that the European countries present in the negotiations would play a constructive and desirable role in reaching an agreement with a realistic view.

The two sides stressed that the repayment of the overdue debts of Britain to Iran is one of the main issues in between and it is necessary to settle the appropriate way as soon as possible and pay the debt of London to Tehran.  

In this telephone conversation, the British Foreign Secretary, while reviewing the latest state of bilateral relations and talks to resolve the debt problem to Iran, also explained London’s views on this issue and on the Vienna talks.

The British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss for her part, said that the growing relations between Britain and the Islamic Republic of Iran serve the interests of both countries.

“We have achieved good results in the negotiation process so far, but it is appropriate to complete the talks as soon as possible and reach an agreement reached by the parties,” Truss added.

Truss also expressed hope that in the near future, with the continued cooperation of the parties and on the basis of fundamental principles, bilateral issues between them, including consular issues related to prisoners, as well as the payment of arrears to Tehran, will be resolved.

Meanwhile, during an interview with western news outlet, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said that deal on nuclear policy that would release Iran from sanctions could be reached in a matter of hours, if western powers seize the opportunity,

Amir-Abdollahian said that Tehran had shown flexibility and seriousness in negotiations with the West over its nuclear policy. But he also warned some red lines remained.

“So far, we’ve taken lots of initiatives and shown the required flexibility at the Vienna negotiating table,” he said. “We’re saying very clearly to them that ‘now it is your turn’. It is time to see initiatives and flexibility from the western side.”

Amir-Abdollahian also said a prisoner exchange was on the table – if the West is ready to take up the offer.

“We’ve announced that we’re ready, either outside the Vienna talks or alongside them, to exchange prisoners when the other side is ready,” he said. “We consider this to be a 100% humanitarian issue. We don’t see any necessity to link this humanitarian dossier to the Vienna Talks.”

And he told Iranians living abroad that they can have confidence about returning home without fear of being detained, under a new web-based vetting system.

“Just by sharing very limited information about themselves, any Iranian can ask us at the Foreign Ministry whether they’ll be able to travel without any problems,” he said. “We will respond within a maximum of 10 days in full coordination with the judiciary and security sectors, and we are responsible for our response.”

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