Talks with Iran constructive and business-like: US

Washington: The indirect talks being held with Iran in Vienna for the past few days are constructive and business-like, the United States has said reiterating that it is going to be a long process.

US delegation, led by its special envoy Rob Malley, is participating in the indirect talks with Iran being held through its European allies.

The primary issues to be discussed in Vienna are two-fold: on the one hand, the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to effect its return to compliance with the JCPOA; and on the other hand, the sanctions relief steps that we would need to take in order to return to compliance as well, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

Referring to remarks by the Iranians, he said these talks have been described by them as constructive, business-like, and accomplishing what they set out to do.

“And that is true; we would characterise it that way as well. We would also, however, hasten to not allow expectations to outpace where we are. After all, we have said this will be hard,” Price said.

“It will be hard because these are indirect engagements, and obviously the mechanics of this are not un-cumbersome. It’ll be hard because the subject at hand is very technical; it’s very complex, and it is technical and complex precisely because we have arrived at a strategic formulation, something that candidate Biden and now President Joe Biden has called compliance for compliance,” he said.

Price said that they need not have broad, strategic talks at this stage and they are engaged in technical talks about how they might get to that endpoint

“We know that is the desired strategic endpoint, so we need not have broad, strategic talks at this stage; we are engaged in technical talks about how we might get to that endpoint. It will be hard, of course, because there is no insignificant degree of distrust between the US and Iran, between the US and the broader international community,” he said.

“Now, we’re not going to let any of that be insurmountable, to potentially stand in the way. And in fact, these discussions have been constructive. This forum has been constructive; it has been business-like; this has been a step forward. I think you probably saw the announcement that the Joint Commission will meet tomorrow. We expect the talks may resume in the coming days, potentially next week,” Price said.

Responding to a question, he said that the Iranians have a task and that is to determine if and how they might return to compliance with the nuclear deal, to return to compliance with the strictest verification and monitoring regime ever negotiated.

“Our task, if it gets there, is to determine how we might resume compliance with our commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). And if we get there, we have said that we are prepared to take the necessary steps to return to compliance with the JCPOA and that would include lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA,” he said.

The dynamics of that, the mechanics of that, is precisely what US officials are discussing right now with European allies and Russian and Chinese partners in this endeavour.

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