China says firmly opposes US unilateral sanctions on Iran
The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that an agreement to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA, remained "possible" as talks in Vienna advance in a "better atmosphere".
"We're arriving at the end of a long process... there's a better atmosphere since Christmas – before Christmas I was very pessimistic. Today I believe reaching an accord is possible," Borrell said after an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers.
He said a final deal could be concluded "in the coming weeks".
"I still maintain the hope that it would be possible to remake this agreement and have it function as it did before the American withdrawal," he added, according to AFP.
The comments came as Iran and the P4+1 countries – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – concluded an eighth round of negotiations in the Austrian capital on Friday, aimed at bringing the United States back to compliance with the deal after its 2018 unilateral withdrawal that saw former president Donald Trump reimposing and reinforcing “toughest ever” sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman echoed Borrell’s sentiment earlier this week, saying that efforts by "all parties" to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers had resulted in "good progress" during the Vienna talks.
Borrell spoke alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who reiterated his view that the talks are progressing "much too slowly to be able to reach a result".
"We now have to conclude and come to a decision,” Le Drian said.
"There will be nothing more to negotiate if nothing happens," he added.
Speaking from the Chinese city of Wuxi, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a “good deal” would be within reach “as soon as possible” should the Western side continue the Vienna talks with a “realistic approach”.
Amir-Abdollahian criticized the European parties to the JCPOA and the US, which is not directly participating in the talks, for “lacking initiatives”.
“Both the European trio and the US utter good words through their non-papers or messages they send to us but they do not offer any initiatives,” he told reporters after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
The Iranian minister said the West’s concerns and its call for speeding up the talks stand in marked contrast with its lack of initiatives.
“I would like to say it loud that Iran welcomes a good deal in the shortest possible time, but such achieving such a deal depends on the Western sides,” Amir-Abdollahian pointed out.
At the meeting with the Iranian minister, Wang reaffirmed China’s opposition to unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran
“China firmly opposes the illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran, opposes political manipulation by taking advantage of human rights and other issues, and opposes gross interference in the internal affairs of Iran and other regional countries,” Wang said, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
China and Iran will “continue to firmly support each other in defending our core interests, hold high the banner of multilateralism, oppose hegemony and power politics, safeguard the basic norms of international relations, and safeguard international fairness and justice,” he added.
Wang, who is also the state councilor, backed efforts to revive the JCPOA.
He said the US bore primary responsibility for “the current difficult situation” of the deal.
“The US unilaterally withdrew from the comprehensive agreement… and created the current difficult situation. It should take the main responsibility and correct its mistakes as soon as possible,” Wang said.