By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia will not meet with Iran at the United Nations this week to discuss a return to nuclear deal talks, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Monday.
Diplomats were tentatively planning for a ministerial meeting of the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.
“Some years it happens, some years it doesn’t happen. It’s not in the agenda,” said Borrell, who acts as coordinator for the nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“But the important thing is not this ministerial meeting, but the will of all parties to resume negotiations in Vienna,” he said, adding that he would meet with his new Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on Tuesday.
The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018.
Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which then started breaching curbs on its nuclear programme. Tehran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only.
The Vienna talks were adjourned in June after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran‘s president and took office in August. Borrell said he would push Amirabdollahian on Tuesday to resume talks as soon as possible.
“After the elections the new presidency asked for the delay in order to take fully take stock of the negotiations and understand better everything about this very sensitive file,” Borrell said. “The summer has already passed by and we expect that the talks can be resuming soon in Vienna.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier on Monday that the negotiations must restart, signalling that there would be a ministerial meeting of the nuclear deal parties.
“We need to take advantage of this week to restart these talks. Iran must accept to return as quickly as possible by appointing its representatives for the negotiations,” he said.
Iran‘s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)