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Top EU diplomat hopeful for deal at Iran nuclear talks

Enrique Mora, the European Union co-ordinator of talks to revive Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers, left, shakes hands with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, in Tehran (Iranian Foreign Ministry/AP)
Enrique Mora, the European Union co-ordinator of talks to revive Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers, left, shakes hands with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, in Tehran (Iranian Foreign Ministry/AP)

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said he is hopeful that stalled talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear programme can still lead to an agreement.

The talks between Tehran and world powers are deadlocked, partly due to Iran’s demand for the United States to lift a terrorist designation on the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Seven major economies in Germany, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said an EU envoy visited Tehran this week for talks that had “gone better than expected”.

“The negotiations have been stalled for two months due to this disagreement about what to do with the Revolutionary Guard,” Mr Borrell said.

“These kind of things cannot be solved overnight, but let’s say the negotiations were blocked and they have been de-blocked,” he added.

“Which means there is a perspective of reaching agreement.”

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian echoed Mr Borrell’s assessment, saying on Twitter that the discussions between the EU envoy and Iran’s negotiator “were another opportunity to focus on initiatives to resolve the remaining issues”.

“A good and reliable outcome is within reach if US makes its decision & adheres to its commitments,” Mr Abdollahian wrote.

Meanwhile, the EU’s envoy, Enrique Mora, said on Friday he was briefly detained with colleagues at Frankfurt Airport while on a layover from Tehran to Brussels, in breach of diplomatic rules.

Mr Mora said he received “not a single explanation” from German authorities.

“An EU official on an official mission holding a Spanish diplomatic passport. Took out my passport and my phones,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said the EU ambassador to the UN in Vienna and the head of the EU’s Iran task force were also detained.

“We were kept separated,” Mr Mora wrote. “Refusal to give any explanation for what seems a violation of the Vienna Convention.”

German federal police said the three diplomats were singled out for checks by a computerised system due to their travel from Tehran, rather than any information about them as individuals.

They were released after 40 minutes, police said.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.