Blinken: path to diplomacy with Iran remains open

US secretary of state tells Tehran the ball is in its court

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iran must show it wanted a diplomatic solution to end nuclear tension with world powers, as he repeated Washington’s readiness to engage.

“We have been very clear that the path to diplomacy is open,” Mr Blinken said at the end of a two-day meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels.

Iran has rejected an EU invitation to begin talks on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, from which US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 before reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

In response, Iran has repeatedly broken the limits of the accord and refused to negotiate with the US until sanctions were removed.

“So as we’ve said, the ball is really in their court to see if they want to take the path to diplomacy and returning to compliance with the agreement,” Mr Blinken said.

“Should that happen, we would then seek to build a longer and stronger agreement, but also to engage on some of the other issues where Iran’s actions and conduct are particularly problematic – destabilisation of countries in the region, ballistic missile programme ...”

The administration of US President Joe Biden has signalled it wants a return to the accord, but will only do so when Iran stops breaching its terms.

Mr Blinken held talks on Tuesday night with the foreign ministers of the three European signatories of the nuclear agreement, France, Germany and the UK.

“We are all very much on the same page when it comes to Iran, when it comes to our common interest in seeing if Iran wants to engage in diplomacy to come back fully into compliance with its obligations,” he said.

“We are prepared to engage on that. To date, Iran has not been, but let’s see what happens in the weeks ahead.”

Mr Blinken, who has the job of reversing Mr Trump’s "America First" foreign policy, is visiting Europe to emphasise US commitment to Nato and its strong relationship with the EU.

“Nato has been the cornerstone of transatlantic security for more than 70 years," he said. "The United States is committed to this alliance now and in the future.

"I came here to Brussels to consult with our allies because we intend to work with them and our partners wherever and whenever we can.

“We share collective security, strategic interests, a long history, people-to-people ties, and a commitment to core values, including democracy, human rights, the rule of law.

"In short, we’re in this together.”

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