DOHA: Chief negotiators from the United States and Iran began indirect talks in Qatar on Tuesday, bidding to remove obstacles that have stalled attempts to revive a landmark nuclear deal.
The indirect negotiations headed by US special envoy Robert Malley and Iran’s Ali Bagheri come after more than a year of European Union-mediated talks in Vienna on a return to the 2015 agreement between Tehran and world powers.
The Doha talks also come just two weeks before US President Joe Biden’s first visit to the region since taking office, when efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be high on the agenda.
“Indirect messages have been exchanged between the parties involved,” a diplomat in the region said. Iran’s state news agency IRNA published a photo of Bagheri meeting with the EU coordinator for the talks, Enrique Mora.
EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said earlier that the Doha discussions were the start of a process to “unblock” the long-running Vienna negotiations that have stalled since March.
“We managed to unblock the process and we are going to move forward, and as a first step at this stage we have these proximity talks,” he said in Brussels.
The delegations are in separate rooms and communicating via intermediaries.
The US and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to return to the agreement, saying it would be the best path ahead with the Islamic republic, although it has voiced growing pessimism in recent weeks.
Malley earlier met Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to discuss “joint diplomatic efforts to address issues with Iran”, the US embassy in Doha tweeted.
Bagheri, meanwhile, met Qatar’s foreign ministry secretary-general, Ahmad bin Hassen al-Hammadi, Qatar’s foreign ministry said.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022