The United States and Iran said Friday that they would start indirect talks with other major world powers next week to try to get both countries back into an accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program, nearly three years after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal and a month after Iran was reported to have rejected a proposal from the European Union to enter talks with the U.S.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price called the resumption of negotiations, scheduled for Tuesday in Austria, “a healthy step forward.” But, Price added, the situation is in “early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead.”
Former U.S. President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and incumbent President Joe Biden has said rejoining the agreement is a priority for his administration.
The Biden administration and Iran have differed on any conditions for that to happen, including the timing of the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Iran, and the stalemate on those points threatens to pose a major foreign policy setback for the new Biden administration.
Agreement on the start of multiparty talks — being held to get Iran and the United States over their differences on conditions for returning to the 2015 nuclear deal — came after talks Thursday brokered by other governments that have remained in the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Price said next week’s talks will be structured around working groups that the European Union was forming with the remaining participants in the accord, including Iran.
“The primary issues that will be discussed are the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance with the terms of the JCPOA, and the sanctions relief steps that the United States would need to take in order to return to compliance as well,” Price said.
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