Some progress in Iran nuclear deal talks: US State Dept

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington. (File/AFP)
US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 April 2021

Some progress in Iran nuclear deal talks: US State Dept

Some progress in Iran nuclear deal talks: US State Dept
  • Ned Price said big challenges remain and there is a long road ahead
  • US envoy to Yemen is in Saudi Arabia, and will also travel to Oman, to meet with senior government officials

LONDON: The US said on Thursday that some progress has been made in negotiations on reviving the Iranian nuclear agreement in Vienna.

World powers have been meeting in the Austrian capital over the last two weeks in a bid to get Tehran to return to compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear accord.

“We are now in the third round of what promises to be a multi-round exercise and it continues to be a venue where we have been able to engage indirectly with the Iranian delegation in largely thoughtful, businesslike, instructive dialogue, but there’s still a great distance to travel,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price.

“Some progress has been made, we have a better understanding of what we might need to do were Iran to go back into compliance, and it is our assessment that the Iranian’s have a better sense of what they would need to do to resume their compliance with the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the official name of the agreement.

Price added that any return to the 2015 deal would require sanctions relief, but they are considering removing only those sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA. 

“Even if we rejoin the JCPOA — which remains a hypothetical — we would retain and continue to implement sanctions on Iran for activities not covered by the JCPOA, including Iran’s missile proliferation, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses.”

Former President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, and Price said “Iran’s nuclear program has been galloping ahead since.”

But, he said, “big challenges remain and it is fair to say that we are not on the cusp of any breakthrough, and there is a long road ahead of us.”

Price said a senior inter-agency delegation will be traveling over the coming week for discussions on a number of important matters related to US national security and ongoing efforts to deescalate tensions in the Middle East.

He also said US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking is in Saudi Arabia, and will also travel to Oman, to meet with senior government officials to discuss efforts in promoting a cease-fire in Yemen and the unimpeded access to humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Iran welcomed recent statements made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a televised interview.

“With constructive views and dialogue-oriented approach, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as two important countries in the region and the Islamic world, can enter a new chapter of interaction and cooperation to achieve peace, stability and regional development. by overcoming differences,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

The crown prince said on Tuesday that the Kingdom and Iran are neighboring countries and Riyadh wants a good relationship with Tehran.

(With Reuters and AP)


Lebanon information minister resigns

Lebanon information minister resigns
Updated 55 min 38 sec ago

Lebanon information minister resigns

Lebanon information minister resigns

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi said he would resign on Friday to “give Lebanon a chance.”
“I will resign this afternoon,” Kordahi told AFP. “I do not want to cling to this position, if it can be useful, I want to give Lebanon a chance.”
An official at the presidency confirmed to AFP that President Michel Aoun had received a call from Kordahi confirming he would submit his resignation.


UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour
Updated 13 min 21 sec ago

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour
  • Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar

DUBAI: French President Emmanuel Macron met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Friday at the start of a two-day Gulf tour that saw France sell the UAE 80 French-made Rafale warplanes for $18.08 billion (€16 billion). 
France’s Defense Minister said the deal was France’s largest-ever weapons contract for export while the Minister for the Armed Forces hailed the deal as "historic."

There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Emirati officials. Macron was greeted at the leadership pavilion at Dubai’s Expo site for talks with Sheikh Mohammed, known as “MBZ."
“I don’t want to reveal the Christmas present” before the meeting, UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash told journalists in the build-up to the talks in Dubai.
Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar, host of next year’s World Cup, before traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The UAE, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, is expected to order dozens of Rafale jets to replace its Mirage 2000 aircraft acquired in the late 1990s.
The Emirates is the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry with $5.31 billion (€4.7 billion) from 2011-2020, according to a parliamentary report.
Macron is accompanied by a large delegation in Dubai including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Defense Minister Florence Parly.


Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog
Updated 03 December 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has urged Syrian authorities to cooperate with the chemical weapons watchdog and implement all decisions related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Kingdom’s position on the matter was reiterated by the Saudi permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ziyad Al-Attiyah.

He said: “The use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as weapons anywhere by any person and under any circumstances is reprehensible and completely contradicts the provisions of the convention and the legal rules and standards of the international community.”

His comments came during the 26th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Al-Attiyah also highlighted the importance his country attached to implementing its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, believing in its objectives, and based on its consistent policy to strengthen cooperation to ban weapons of mass destruction and prevent their spread.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia was keen to help free the Middle East of all WMDs, a move that would increase international peace and security.

Al-Attiyah thanked the organization’s director general, Fernando Arias, for his efforts toward the cause, adding that the Kingdom would be supporting his reappointment for a second term.


Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
Updated 03 December 2021

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
  • The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil

IRBIL: At least three civilians and seven Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have been killed in northern Iraq in an attack blamed on the Daesh jihadist group, the forces said Friday.
The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil, killing three civilians, a statement said. The peshmerga, Kurdistan’s armed forces, launched an operation in response, and seven fighters died when “an explosive device planted by Daesh elements” blew up.


Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
Updated 51 min 5 sec ago

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
  • The US and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal

DUBAI/VIENNA: The seventh round of indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which began this week, will end on Friday with a formal meeting of the remaining parties to the deal, European and Iranian officials said.

The meeting of Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China is in a format known as the Joint Commission which has bookended previous rounds of talks. The Iranian official said the meeting would be held around noon (1100 GMT). The aim is to resume the talks next week, the European diplomat said.

“The Europeans want to return to their capitals for consultations ... We are ready to stay in Vienna for further talks,” an Iranian official close to the talks said.

On the fourth day of indirect US-Iran talks on bringing both nations fully back into the deal, the United States and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.