Iran’s foreign minister says Tehran and world powers are not far from reaching a “good and lasting agreement”, but Iran will never back down from its “red lines.”

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a Thursday phone call with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mikdad, noting that the diplomatic procedures are working efficiently in the talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The path of diplomacy works well, and we are not far from reaching a good and lasting agreement,” he said, stressing that “We continue to exchange messages with Americans through the European Union. We have repeatedly emphasized that Iran does not pay attention to [the US] excessive demands and is not willing to retreat from its red lines times”.

Tehran has refused to negotiate with Washington directly during talks in Vienna to revive the JCPOA. European powers and Russia have acted as intermediaries between the two sides.

Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that “if the United States is realistic, we are ready to finalize the agreement in the near future in the presence of the foreign ministers of JCPOA Joint commission in Vienna”.

Eleven months of indirect talks between Iran and the United States to restore the JCPOA have stalled as both sides say political decisions are required by Tehran and Washington to settle the remaining issues.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard commanders and officers meeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

One of the main issues is Iran’s demand to remove the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations as well as the removal of all ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.

An unnamed US State Department official was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday that “if Iran wants sanctions lifting that goes beyond the JCPOA, they will need to address concerns of ours beyond the JCPOA.”

‘Maximum pressure’ refers to all sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump, who withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018. While Iran has been demanding their removal as a strict condition to restore the deal, the US expressed willingness to lift only nuclear sanctions.

Trump imposed around 1,500 sanctions on Iran since May 2018, but a majority are sanctions on Iranian officials, individuals and companies for reasons other than the nuclear program. Sanctions were imposed for human rights violations, support for terror groups, violation of banking and export laws, money laundering and similar offences.

Elsewhere in their phone call, Amir-Abdollahian and Mikdad talked about the recent developments in Israel and condemned the raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque.

“We are witnessing Zionist crimes at al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis”, the Iranian top diplomat said.

Tensions between Israel and Palestinians have been high since the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan after Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound reportedly to facilitate visits by far-right Jews to the holy site. More than 300 Palestinians were arrested and at least 170 wounded during the clashes.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed hope that on the occasion of International Quds Day, an Iranian official holiday in support of Palestinians, which will be marked on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, all Muslim nations will send a powerful message in defense of Palestine and to condemn Israel’s “acts of aggression”.

Mikdad, for his part, condemned “the Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories”, and praised the role of the Islamic Republic in supporting the Palestinian resistance.

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