US-Iran talks took place in Oman, Tehran says

Indirect talks focused on potential sanctions easing

The flags of Iran and Oman. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Tehran and Washington have held indirect talks in Oman to discuss the 2015 nuclear deal and a potential prisoner swap, Iran said on Monday.

Talks between the US and Iran have appeared to be frozen for months. The two countries last week denied a report that they were close to reaching an interim deal to replace the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

On Monday, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the indirect talks in Oman had focused on the lifting of sanctions that came after the US exited the deal.

“We welcome the efforts of Omani officials and we exchanged messages with the other party through this mediator” over the lifting of US sanctions, Mr Kanani told reporters on Monday.

“We have never stopped the diplomatic processes,” he added, emphasising that the talks “were not secret”.

Mr Kanani did not say when the talks took place, but Axios reported the “proximity talks” occurred last month and included Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kan.

The US State Department would not confirm the talks, but a department official told The National that "it is no secret that we continue our diplomatic engagements to constrain Iran’s destabilising behaviour".

The JCPOA granted Tehran much-needed sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme but the US under Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday reiterated the denial of moves towards acquiring a nuclear weapon.

He also said deals could be reached, provided they do not change “the existing infrastructure of the nuclear industry”.

Iran and the US have also been involved in Oman-mediated talks over a possible prisoner swap.

Mr Kanani on Monday said a prisoner exchange could be agreed “in the near future”, provided Washington exhibits “the same level of seriousness” as Tehran.

Mr Kanani also denied that Iran had provided Russia with equipment to “build a drone factory”.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby on Friday warned that Russia was receiving materials from Iran to build a drone factory on its territory.

Updated: June 16, 2023, 1:07 PM