Blinken, Lavrov Discuss Iran Nuclear Deal As Tehran Signals Talks ‘Days’ Away

Antony Blinken (left) greets Sergei Lavrov at a meeting in Reykjavik in May.  

The top U.S. and Russian diplomats have discussed their shared interest in the restoration of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced his conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a visit to France on October 6.

"The United States and Russia, I think, [are] sharing an interest in seeing a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA," Blinken said in reference to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Washington pulled out of in 2018 before reimposing sanctions on Iran.

"We had an opportunity to compare notes on where we stand, and where we hope to go," Blinken said of his conversation with Lavrov.

Blinken’s remarks followed Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s suggestion during a visit to Moscow the same day that included talks with Lavrov that Tehran expected the EU-mediated talks to revive the nuclear deal to restart "soon."

Lavrov was quoted as saying that the talks on the JCPOA "should be resumed as soon as possible" and he urged Washington to return to compliance with the deal.

Lavrov urged the United States to end what he described as "illegal restrictions on Iran and all of its trading partners."

Six rounds of tough, often indirect, negotiations in Vienna were interrupted by the election in June of hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was inaugurated in early August.

"We are now finalizing consultations on this matter and will soon restore our negotiations in Vienna," said Amir-Abdollahian, who has publicly noted that it took U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration months to begin the talks after it took over in January on a pledge to revive the JCPOA.

The conservative Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee spokesman, Mahmud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, was quoted by Tasmin news agency as saying the talks would resume "in the coming days."

"The messages and signals from Western countries point to the start of a new cycle of talks," Meshkini said.

The financial and other sanctions slapped on Iran by then-President Donald Trump in 2018 have badly hurt Iran’s economy and its currency, with conditions for many Iranians worsening considerably during the coronavirus pandemic.

Blinken was in France seeking to calm waters over a recently announced military pact to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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