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G20: US and Europeans to discuss Iran nuclear programme in Rome


US President Joe Biden will meet with the leaders of Germany, France and the United Kingdom to discuss Iran”s nuclear programme on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

The meeting comes as Iran continues to enrich uranium to near-weapons-grade levels.

Biden would like to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which his predecessor withdrew in 2018. The accord imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union remain part of the deal.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the meeting with Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Boris Johnson would feature the leaders “all singing from the same song sheet on this issue.”

He called it a “study in contrast with the previous administration since Iran was one of the areas of most profound divergence between the previous administration and the Europeans.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said they are concerned that nuclear material is present at undeclared locations in Iran.

The US has participated indirectly in talks aimed at bringing both Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Those Vienna talks have been on hiatus since June, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took power.

Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator for the talks, tweeted that Iran has agreed to restart negotiations by the end of November and a date for a resumption of talks “would be announced in the course of the next week.”

Sullivan said Thursday that the US was still trying to determine whether Iran was serious about the negotiations.

“It’s not entirely clear to me yet whether the Iranians are prepared to return to talks,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Rome for the Group of 20 summit.

“We have heard positive signals that they are, but I think we have to wait and see when and whether they actually show up at the negotiating table.”

Sullivan said the group would be sending “clear messages” to Iran that the window for negotiation “is not unlimited.”

“We, of course, retain all other options to be able to deal with this program as necessary,” he said.

The meeting comes days after US officials blamed Iran for resourcing a drone attack on a US outpost in Syria. No deaths or injuries were reported as a result of the attack.

In retaliation, the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday announced new penalties against two senior members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and two affiliated companies for supplying lethal drones and related material to insurgent groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Ethiopia.



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