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Tehran Claims U.S. Signaled 'Will' For New Nuclear Deal; Washington Silent

Iran's top diplomat says Tehran received a new signal from the United States that the "will and goodwill" exist in Washington to reach an agreement to replace the nuclear deal that fell apart after a U.S. pullout four years ago.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on September 25 as saying he responded by urging the U.S. side to demonstrate "realism" so the sides could finalize a deal.

Amir-Abdollahian didn't detail how or at what level any exchange had taken place.

U.S. officials have not confirmed any exchange of messages, although diplomats are said to be working on the Iran nuclear issue during the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York.

IRNA quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying he had met in New York with EU and other envoys whose countries are party to the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but not providing details.

After 16 months of international negotiations in Vienna and indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, the European Union last month put forward a final offer to overcome an impasse for the revival of the JCPOA from 2015.

Tehran responded publicly by saying it wanted stronger "guarantees" that the U.S. side wouldn't again abandon the deal, and Washington signaled it thought the Iranian response "takes us backwards."

The last official meeting in the EU-facilitated negotiations to replace the JCPOA took place two months ago.

Hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi -- whose country has been convulsed by deadly protests in dozens of cities since the death in custody of a young student for reportedly breaking Iran's strict Islamic dress code -- was in New York last week to deliver a speech to the UN gathering.

Vahid Jalalzadeh, who heads Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and accompanied Raisi on his trip, suggested a meeting was sought via Swiss diplomats but did not take place.

Washington has not confirmed any such initiative.

The JCPOA began to collapse when former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran, and Tehran has since strayed from compliance with the deal.

The head of Iran's nuclear agency, Mohammad Eslami, was quoted by state television as saying he would travel to Vienna next week for a meeting with the head of the UN's atomic agency, the IAEA.

"I will go to Austria to take part in the annual general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, where I will meet with Director-General Rafael Grossi," Eslami said.

The IAEA's annual conference is scheduled for September 26-30.

With reporting by AFP

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