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US must lift sanctions before nuclear deal talks begin, Iran says

THE United States must lift its sanctions against Iran before talks on the revival of Tehran’s international nuclear deal can begin, the Iranian government said today.

President Joe Biden’s administration pledged on Thursday to re-engage with Iran over the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which also involves Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union.

The US State Department said that it would accept an EU invitation to meet Iran for talks, expressing an intention to rejoin the pact.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran vowed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions against the country. But former US president Donald Trump abandoned the accord in 2018. 

Iran then stopped keeping its side of the deal and resumed its nuclear programme, which the country insists is only for peaceful purposes. 

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that while “gestures are fine,” Mr Trump had “left the room.”

He stressed that Tehran would only respond to calls to revive the deal after all sanctions had been lifted. 

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran would immediately “reverse all remedial measures” if the US “unconditionally and effectively” lifted the sanctions.

Mr Biden’s pledge is part of a series of actions by his administration to distance itself from his predecessor’s Middle East policies.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the president intended to “recalibrate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia. 

The Biden administration has vowed to help the kingdom defend itself against attacks, including from armed drones launched by Houthi forces in Yemen, while ending support for the Saudi-led war in the neighbouring country. 

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