Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference in Tehran Monday that the Brussels meeting between the two sides is the continuation of talks held in Tehran last Thursday, which he termed as “good and constructive”.
He said the meeting could be an “effective step forward” to resume stalled talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining signatories to bring back the US to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The six rounds of talks in Vienna, which started in April, have failed to produce any breakthrough so far. Khatibzadeh pointed to “challenges” in the talks, in a veiled reference to Washington’s refusal to take any meaningful step.
He emphasized that Tehran has set “no pre-conditions” for the resumption of Vienna talks, but stressed that the talks should not be “for the sake of talks” or amounting to “wastage of time”.
Khatibzadeh said Baqeri, who is likely to lead Iran’s new negotiating team in Vienna, will publicly discuss issues about the challenges and obstacles in the talks.
The spokesman reiterated that the US must uphold its commitments as stipulated in the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the world powers in 2015, noting that no practical steps have been taken so far by Washington.
He said the Joe Biden administration is continuing the former administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran and that there has been “no change in its policies”.
In response to a question about Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s statement made on Sunday that the US must take “serious steps” before the resumption of talks in Vienna, Khatibzadeh said the remarks are an “expression of logic” and do not imply any message to the Americans.
He called on the US to “reconsider its policy” toward Iran and “show it in practice” by removing the draconian sanctions and returning to the deal as well as guaranteeing that the agreement won’t be breached again.
Pointing to the futility of the US sanctions, the spokesman said Washington thought the sanctions would bring about the collapse of Iran’s economic system but the country has not only been “able to absorb the pressure” but the gross domestic product (GDP) has also seen a positive tilt this year.
‘Monitoring Afghanistan closely’
Responding to a question on the recent turn of events in neighboring Afghanistan, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Tehran is “closely monitoring” the developments in his eastern neighbor.
Khatibzadeh announced that the Iranian government will be hosting a one-day conference on Afghanistan in Tehran next week, which will see the participation of foreign ministers from the regional countries.
He also confirmed Iran’s participation in the upcoming conference on Afghanistan to be hosted by Moscow later this week, at the level of special representatives.
Afghanistan has been rocked by a series of bombings in recent weeks, from Kunduz in the north to Kandahar in the south as well as the capital Kabul, claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.
While the bombing on a mosque in Kunduz claimed more than 150 lives, a similar terrorist attack on a mosque in Kandahar resulted in more than 60 deaths, all members of the minority Shia community.
Khatibzadeh said Iran is “in contact” with all parties in Kabul and stressed that the Taliban government must ensure security of all Afghans, including the minority Hazara Shias.
He urged the international community to respond seriously to the escalation of violence in Afghanistan, saying Iran is committed to preventing the country from “entering the cycle of violence and terror” again.
He also reiterated Tehran’s call for the formation of an inclusive and broad-based government in Kabul, with representation from all political and ethnic groups.
‘Iraq election a positive step’
On the recently-held elections in Iraq, Khatibzadeh said Iran views the elections as “a positive step” toward building a democratic society.
He said Iran has welcomed the democratic exercise, while emphasizing that the Iraqi government and other stakeholders within the country should pursue the matters related to incidents of violence.
Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators rallied Sunday against the results of last week’s legislative poll, according to which the Sairoon Alliance led by influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr emerged as the largest bloc in the house.
People marched along the streets in the eastern suburb of Hussainiyah in the capital Baghdad and condemned the results of the parliamentary election as “fraudulent.”
Security forces were later deployed to the area to disperse the crowd, who burned tires.
‘Talks with Saudi based on mutual respect’
Commenting on the ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia, brokered by the Iraqi government, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said the talks have progressed based on “mutual respect.”
He said the two sides have discussed “bilateral and regional issues” in the ongoing talks, with Iran underlining its concerns in unambiguous words.
Terming the talks that have been underway since April as “respectful” and “serious”, he said they shall continue and hopefully reach the logical conclusion.
Iraq has hosted several rounds of direct talks between Iranian and Saudi delegations since April with the aim of resurrecting relations severed five years ago over a host of issues.
The negotiations were launched under Iran’s former President Hassan Rouhani, and continued with renewed vigor by the new administration headed by Ebrahim Raeisi.
Earlier this month, Iran maintained that no preconditions have been imposed by either side in talks intended to mend bilateral diplomatic ties.
“There are no preconditions from either side, and we are trying to start a sustainable relationship within the mutually beneficial framework,” Khatibzadeh said on October 4.
‘Zero tolerance for Israeli presence on border’
Khatibzadeh, responding to a question about recent tensions between Tehran and Baku over reports about the presence of Israeli troops on the country’s border with Iran, said the issue has been communicated with the Azerbaijani government.
He said Iran will “not tolerate” the presence of Israeli regime troops on the border with Iran, while stressing that the regime in Tel Aviv has “roots in terror and violence”.
On the aerial military drill held by Azerbaijan recently, the spokesman said informing Iran about it was a “sign of maturity”.
In other remarks, Khatibzadeh informed about the visit of Venezuelan Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia to Tehran on Monday.