EU envoy arrives in Iran amid hopes for nuclear deal

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A top European Union diplomat visited Tehran on Sunday, according to Iranian state media, amid hopes a deal could be reached to restore Iran’s ailing nuclear deal with international powers.

The meeting between the European Union’s envoy, Enrique Mora, and high-ranking Iranian officials was taking place at a delicate moment in the negotiations, and it seemed that there was a chance of resolving some of the most thorny issues in the talks.

The report on the meetings in Tehran gave few details other than that diplomats had discussed the latest developments on the nuclear deal, with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani reiterating that Tehran believed there were chances of reaching a deal if The United States was “realistic” in its demands.

Former US President Donald Trump left the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran. Tehran gradually broke the terms of the agreement with a huge expansion of its nuclear activity.

Negotiations were suspended this month as last-minute details were discussed in Vienna, as the meetings coincided with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Western financial sanctions on Moscow.

But several officials have been optimistic afterwards. Russia appeared to withdraw its initial demand that its trade with Iran be exempt from Western sanctions.

And for the first time, the top Iranian diplomat made a public show of flexibility in Tehran’s demand that Washington stop classifying the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, its powerful paramilitary force, as a foreign terrorist organization.

The prospect of that designation being withdrawn had alarmed US allies in the Middle East, such as Israel, which staunchly opposed the original nuclear deal and said lifting sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards would empower Iranian-backed armed groups, like Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.

In a visible sign of growing regional anxiety over a new nuclear deal, the Israeli government hastily arranged an unprecedented summit of top diplomats from Arab countries that have normalized relations with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. .

“We are both committed, determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” Blinken said alongside the Israeli foreign minister, in an effort to reassure concerned interlocutors ahead of the meeting.


Jo reported from Doha, Qatar. Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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