US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Sunday that Washington is unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran unless Tehran releases American prisoners held in the Islamic Republic.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not accepted any preconditions from the onset of [the Vienna] talks. Such issues are simply intended for the domestic audience and media use,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference in Tehran, responding to Malley.
“The unambiguous message has always been that negotiations are complex enough and should not be further perplexed by such complicated statements,” he said, Press TV wrote.
Khatibzadeh pointed to the grave situation of Iranian citizens that are being held hostage inside America, stating that Tehran has either directly or indirectly raised the issue with the US on multiple occasions.
“The matter has been on our agenda both before and after the talks. The case with Iranian and US citizens, however, is of different nature. This humanitarian issue can be resolved in the shortest possible time if the United States adheres to the agreements it has already made,” the spokesman pointed out.
“Unlike our citizens who have been taken hostage in the United States under the false pretext of circumventing illegal US sanctions against the Iranian nation, those imprisoned in Iran have been found guilty of their crimes by the Judiciary, and necessary legal procedures have been conducted by competent courts of law.”
He highlighted that all sides in Vienna talks agree that a guarantee that Washington will not once again leave the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is vital to a successful conclusion of the talks.
“We are witnessing progress of talks in Vienna, and we have already made good progress in four areas. The parentheses have been reduced and the ideas have turned into words. The important point is that all parties in Vienna agree that the United States must not quit the nuclear deal again,” Khatibzadeh said.
“We have presented very practical and realistic ideas in Vienna, and we think that our ideas will enable dialogue in the field of guarantees. Of course, it is natural that we do not re-negotiate what has already been negotiated behind closed doors,” the diplomat pointed out.
“Iran is looking for a sustainable and reliable agreement. The path to receiving guarantees is the right one,” he noted.
The Vienna talks between Iran and France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – known as the P4+1 – began in April last year with the aim of reviving the JCPOA by bringing the United States back to compliance almost four years after its unilateral pullout and was followed by its reimposition of sanctions on Iran.
They are now in their eighth round with focuses on the removal of sanctions the United States has imposed on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal. The US is not allowed to directly attend the talks due to its pullout in 2018 from the deal with Iran.
On Monday, Iran and the P4+1 continued their talks with chief negotiators working on “drafting of an important part of an outcome document”.
“It was a more or less successful exercise although some outstanding issues still remain in the relevant segment of an outcome document,” Russia’s representatives to the talks Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted.
During the eighth round, Iran has rejected the notion of setting timelines for achieving an agreement, with its representatives noting that they prefer to clinch a logical accord within a logical period of time.