Enrique Mora, the European Union official responsible for coordinating the talks, visited Tehran on Thursday to meet members of Iran’s negotiating team, four months after talks between Iran and world powers were suspended..
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has so far refused to resume indirect talks with the United States in Vienna on the two sides’ return to compliance with the agreement under which Iran imposed restrictions on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions..
Ahead of Mora’s visit, diplomats from France, Britain and Germany, which are parties to the agreement along with Russia and China, said the visit came at a sensitive time, adding that things could not be considered “as usual” given the escalation of Iran’s nuclear activities and the stalled negotiations..
The United States said time is running out.
“They are not yet ready for dialogue in Vienna,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that he believed Tehran was “certainly determined to return to Vienna and to complete negotiations.”“.
Describing the meeting in Brussels as a “good idea,” the official said it would give both sides the opportunity to review the texts on the table from June and clarify questions the new Iranian negotiating team might have..
But Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, told reporters in Washington that he did not see the need to meet in Brussels and that the new Tehran government had had enough time to prepare for the talks in Vienna, but that some “patience on this issue is necessary because we cannot afford to fail.”“.
Borrell added that Iran wanted to talk to the European Union as well as with other countries party to the nuclear deal, but said he did not know which country wanted and when the Brussels talks would be..
Tehran has repeatedly said it will return to negotiations “soon” but has not set a clearer date. Western diplomats hope it will be possible to resume talks before the end of October.
However, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said after Mora’s visit that it will hold talks in the coming days with the European Union in Brussels.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency who follows the nuclear talks, indicated that it would be better for Iran to return to the Vienna talks..
“Isn’t it more wise to discuss the texts with the participants in the Vienna talks?” he wrote on Twitter.“
French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said negotiations must immediately resume where they left off in June in order to reach an agreement quickly..
Western officials said they feared that Iran’s new negotiating team, working with a president known to be tough on the West unlike his resilient predecessor, could make new demands beyond what has already been agreed..