Iran's foreign minister says nuclear deal closer 'than ever'

Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian attends a press conference after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Berri, in Beirut
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian is seen during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher//File Photo

DUBAI, March 23 (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic and world powers are closer than ever to reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

"If the U.S. acts pragmatically, we are ready to have foreign ministers of countries belonging to the nuclear deal's joint commission gather in Vienna to finalise the agreement," Amirabdollahian said during a press conference in Damascus alongside his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.

"We believe that today we are closer to an agreement in Vienna than ever before."

Following 11 months of negotiations, Iran and the United States are now saying that the ball is in the other's court to revive the accord, which would curb Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for lifting tough sanctions on Iran's economy.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said a return to the deal was neither certain nor imminent. read more

The talks were close to agreement until Russia demanded guarantees from the United States that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Iran.

"We have given our latest proposals to the U.S. through the European Union's Coordinator to reach a final deal. We reminded the Americans that we will not cross our red lines," Amirabdollahian said on Wednesday.

The foreign minister also said that Tehran welcomes new talks between Syria and certain Arab countries.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad travelled to the United Arab Emirates last week, his first visit to an Arab state since the Syrian war began in 2011, underlining warming ties with a U.S.-allied country that once backed rebels who sought his removal. read more

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; editing by Michael Georgy, Toby Chopra, William Maclean

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