Vienna talks on Iran nuclear deal to go on next week amid cautious optimism

Photo: AP Police officers stay in front of the ‘Grand Hotel Wien’ in Vienna, 9 April, where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place.

A first round of talks between top diplomats to try to save the Iranian nuclear deal concluded in Vienna on Friday and will be resumed next week, with participants sounding cautious optimism about the progress made so far, dpa reported.

Negotiators had "noted with satisfaction the initial progress made" at the end of the first three days of talks, Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. "The commission will reconvene next week in order to maintain the positive momentum," he said.

A senior US State Department official described the talks as "productive," but said Iran needed to show more "seriousness of purpose" for progress to be made. The official told reporters that the US was potentially prepared to lift "all sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA [formal acronym for the Iran nuclear deal] and inconsistent with the benefits that Iran expects from the JCPOA ... if Iran comes back into compliance with its obligations."

From its side, Tehran sounded a positive note ahead of Friday's talks. "There are signs that the US is about to revise its position and lift sanctions,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the talks were "constructive" but cautioned against premature celebration.

"All sides showed a willingness to work with the necessary sincerity towards the same goal - the full implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran," Maas told German news network RND in comments published Saturday. "It won't be easy. We are only at the beginning of intensive negotiations," he said, adding that the talks concern highly complex issues and finding solutions will require a willingness to compromise from all sides.

The remaining parties of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are conducting a fresh round of discussions on a possible US return to the deal, which aims to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief.

The US pulled out in 2018. Trading restrictions reimposed by Washington have prevented Tehran from reaping significant economic benefits.

The political director of the EU diplomatic service, Enrique Mora, chaired the meeting with representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran.

Participants were briefed by two working groups on lifting sanctions and implementation of nuclear measures, and "noted the constructive and results oriented exchanges," a statement sent out by the European Union said. "As Coordinator I will continue separate contacts with all JCPOA participants and the US," Mora tweeted.

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