Moscow welcomes ‘progress’ on Iran nuclear deal

Russia said on Friday it was cautiously optimistic about “progress” being made in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told an annual news conference that he was “optimistic” about the direction of the talks.

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“There is real progress. There is a real desire – primarily between Iran and the United States – to understand specific concerns and how these concerns can be considered in the general package of documents,” Lavrov said.

The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – offered Tehran relief from tough sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

But the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under former US President Donald Trump prompted Tehran to backtrack on its commitments.

Talks to restore the deal began last year but were halted in June when Iran elected ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi. Resumed in November.

“They are making good progress at the moment, touching the wood. We think they will come to an agreement,” Lavrov said.

After a rough start, Iran said on Monday that the talks had seen “relatively satisfactory progress”.

However, this week France said discussions had been “too slow” and the United States warned there were only “a few weeks” left to salvage the deal.

Read more: Coordination with Gulf states increases as US and world powers focus on Iran nuclear deal

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