Biden and three European allies discuss Iran’s nuclear program

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ROME (AP) – President Joe Biden and a trio of European allies on Saturday drew up a strategy on how to reach a diplomatic solution as Iran continues to make troubling progress with its nuclear program.

Biden’s meeting with the leaders of Germany, France and Britain, a group known as E3, comes at a pivotal moment as Iran continues to enrich uranium at levels close to military quality.

The president is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and bring Iran back into line with the pact that would have kept the Islamic Republic at least a year away from the possibility of deploying a nuclear weapon.

As Biden and Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Boris Johnson posed for a group photo ahead of their closed-door talks, Biden was asked when he would like the stalled negotiations with Iran to resume.

“They are expected to resume,” he said.

Iran has yet to commit to a date to resume nuclear talks in Vienna, but has indicated it will do so next week with a goal of resuming negotiations in late November. The United States and others have expressed skepticism about Iranian intentions.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier in the week that Saturday’s meeting would feature the leaders “all singing from the same score on this issue.”

He called it a “study in contrast to the previous administration” because Iran was one of the areas of deepest divergence between the Trump administration and the Europeans.

The UN atomic watchdog said Iran was increasingly violating the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal, and the United States indirectly participated in talks aimed at bringing Washington and Tehran back into compliance. These talks in Vienna have been on hiatus since June, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took power.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union are still part of the deal.

Saturday’s meeting came as leaders are in Rome for the Group of 20 summit, the first stop on Biden’s five-day overseas trip. He also participates in a United Nations climate conference in Scotland.

Biden was greeted at the summit site by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and joined his counterparts for the usual ‘family photo’, before attending the opening plenary session on the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recovery.

Saturday’s meeting follows days after Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator for the talks, tweeted that Iran had agreed to resume negotiations by the end of November and that ‘A date for the resumption of talks “would be announced within the next week.”

Sullivan said on Thursday that the United States was still trying to determine whether Iran was serious about the negotiations.

“It’s not entirely clear to me yet whether the Iranians are ready to resume talks,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Rome. “We have heard positive signals that they are, but I think we have to wait and see when and if they actually come to the negotiating table.”

Sullivan said the group would send “clear messages” to Iran that the negotiating window “is not unlimited.”

“We are of course retaining all other options to be able to deal with this program if necessary,” he said.

Saturday’s meeting comes after US officials accused Iran of a drone attack on a remote US outpost in Syria. Officials said Monday that the United States believed Iran had funded and encouraged the attack, but the drones had not been launched from Iran.

No deaths or injuries were reported as a result of the attack.

In retaliation, the US Treasury Department on Friday announced new sanctions against two senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials and two affiliates for providing deadly drones and related materiel to insurgent groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Ethiopia.

At the summit, Biden pushed for progress towards his goal of establishing a 15% global minimum corporate tax, the White House said, even as his national efforts to raise the corporate rate to that figure were stalled. in Washington.

He was also due to discuss measures to alleviate the global energy supply crisis which has driven up prices, jeopardizing the global economic recovery. Biden was planning to hold an event on strengthening supply chains around the world on Sunday as factories and ports struggled to deliver goods in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


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