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Iran, US to begin indirect nuclear deal talks in Qatar

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Iran and the United States (US) appeared poised yesterday to start indirect talks in Qatar aimed at finding a way to save Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The state-owned Tehran Times posted a photograph of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani in with Iranian Ambassador to Qatar Hamidreza Dehghani.

The newspaper said Bagheri Kani was in Doha, the Qatari capital, for the resumption of the talks.

US Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley arrived in Qatar on Monday night ahead of the talks.

The US Embassy in Qatar said Malley met with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to discuss “joint diplomatic efforts to address issues with Iran”, but declined to immediately offer any other details about his trip.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani speak before a meeting. PHOTO: AFP

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying it “welcomed” hosting the talks.

It said the talks aimed to reestablish the deal “in a way that supports and enhances security, stability and peace in the region and opens new horizons for broader regional cooperation and dialogue with Iran”.

Iran and world powers agreed in 2015 to the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

Talks in Vienna about reviving the deal have been on a “pause” since March. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has been running centrifuges and rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium.

Earlier this month, Iran removed 27 surveillance cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to pressure the West toward making a deal.

The IAEA’s Director-General warned it could deal a “fatal blow” to the accord as Tehran enriches uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.