U.S. State Dept confirms plans for indirect Iran nuclear talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday that the United States has agreed to talks with European, Russian and Chinese partners to identify issues involved in returning to compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

“These remain early days and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead. But we believe this is a healthy step forward,” Price said in a statement.

Diplomats had said earlier on Friday that officials from Tehran and Washington would travel to Vienna next week as part of efforts to revive the 2015 accord.

Price said the talks would be structured around working groups the European Union is going to form with the remaining participants in the nuclear agreement, including Iran.

The primary issues to be discussed are nuclear steps Iran would need to take to return to compliance with terms of the nuclear pact, and the sanctions relief steps the United States would need to take in order to return to compliance as well, the statement said.

“We do not anticipate presently that there will be direct talks between the United States and Iran through this process, though the United States remains open to them,” Price said.

The talks will begin in Austria on April 6.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to violate some of the pact’s nuclear restrictions in retaliation.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis