EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
October 15, 2021
By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said on Friday that Iran wants to meet in Brussels with EU officials who are coordinating indirect talks between the United States and Iran along with some other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Borrell told reporters in Washington that he was ready to meet the Iranians, but could not say when that might happen.
“I am ready to receive them, if needed,” Borrell said, adding that he did not think talks in Brussels were absolutely necessary but that he had to be willing to be somewhat “patient on this issue, because we cannot afford to fail.”
EU political director Enrique Mora, the chief coordinator for the talks, was in Tehran on Thursday to meet members of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, four months after discussions broke off between Iran and world powers.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has so far refused to resume indirect talks with the United States in Vienna on both sides returning to compliance with the deal, under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Since then, Tehran has been rebuilding its stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher levels of purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up the enrichment process.
“Time is pressing,” Borrell said, saying that Iran’s new government had had enough time to study the file and instruct its negotiating team.
“It’s time to go back to the negotiating table. And I don’t want to think about Plan Bs because no … Plan B that I could imagine would be a good one.”
Western diplomats have said they are concerned Tehran’s new negotiating team – under a president known as an anti-Western hardliner, unlike his pragmatist predecessor – may make new demands beyond the scope of what had already been agreed.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; Editing by Paul Simao)