Progress noted at diplomats' talks on Iran nuclear deal

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Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharib Abadi leaves the 'Grand Hotel Wien' where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

VIENNA – High-ranking diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain made progress at talks Saturday focused on bringing the United States back into their landmark nuclear deal with Iran, but said they need more work and time to bring about a future agreement.

After the meeting, Russia’s top representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, “noted today the indisputable progress made at the Vienna talks on restoration of the nuclear deal.”

“The Joint Commission will reconvene at the end of the next week,” Ulyanov wrote. “In the meantime, experts will continue to draft elements of future agreement.”

“It’s too early to be excited, but we have reasons for cautious and growing optimism,” he added. “There is no deadline, but participants aim at successful completion of the talks in approximately 3 weeks.”

The three Western European countries involved in the talks struck a more restrained note.

“We have much work and little time left. Against that background, we would have hoped for more progress this week,” the senior diplomats said talking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named.

“We have yet to come to an understanding on the most critical points. Success is by no means guaranteed, but not impossible.”

In Washington, the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on reports of progress, incremental or not, and said the U.S. assessment of the talks remained where it was on Thursday. On that day, State Department spokesman Ned Price said there had been some movement but that an agreement was far from done or even guaranteed.