U.S. Plays Down Expectations for Iran Nuclear Talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Robert Malley, member of the U.S. National Security Council, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wait to start a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne in 2015. (Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool/File Photo)

The U.S. State Department on Thursday played down expectations for talks on how Washington and Tehran might resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and said the U.S. envoy was likely to return home as the talks break for the weekend.

While echoing descriptions of the talks being held in Vienna as “constructive,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters “we would also, however, hasten to not allow expectations to outpace where we are.”

Diplomats from major powers have met separately with Iran and the United States to discuss how to bring both back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal that Washington abandoned three years ago.

Neither the United States nor Iran expect fast breakthroughs in the talks that began in Vienna on Tuesday, with European and other diplomats acting as intermediaries because Tehran rejects face-to-face talks for now.

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley is expected to return home as the talks break for the weekend, Price said. The talks are chiefly among experts in two working groups that are discussing what sanctions the United States might remove and what nuclear limits Iran might observe to revive the 2015 deal.

The remaining parties to the original nuclear deal – Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – are expected to meet on Friday in a group called the Joint Commission that is chaired by the European Union. Price said the expert-level talks “may resume in the coming days, potentially next week.”