DUBAI: Iran said on Wednesday it sought a strong and lasting nuclear agreement with world powers following talks with Qatar on easing stalled efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear pact.
Qatari Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Tehran a week after EU-mediated indirect US-Iran talks in Doha failed to break a deadlock hindering efforts to resurrect the nuclear agreement.
"We are determined to seek a good, strong and lasting accord and despite American claims... we have not raised any demands outside of the nuclear deal'', Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told a joint news conference with Shaikh Mohammed in Tehran.
Since last week, Iran has questioned US resolve to save the pact while Washington has said Tehran added new demands at the Doha talks.
Iran's Amirabdollahian, however, said on Tuesday that Washington "must decide if it wants a deal or insists on sticking to its unilateral demands".
Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its uranium enrichment work, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy.
But former US president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact in 2018 and reimposed tough economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to breach many of the deal's nuclear limitations.
After almost a year of indirect negotiations in Vienna, the broad outline of a revived deal was agreed. But then talks broke down in March, largely over Tehran's demand that Washington remove its Revolutionary Guards from a US terrorism list. The United States refused, arguing this was outside the scope of reviving the agreement.
Other remaining obstacles to an agreement, Iranian and Western diplomats had said, include providing assurances that Washington will not quit the pact again and the International Atomic Energy Agency dropping its claims about Tehran's nuclear work.
"The American side should guarantee that Iran will fully benefit from a 2015 revived deal. So far, the American side has not been able to give such assurances'', Amirabdollahian said.
PRISONER SWAP: Meanwhile, Belgian lawmakers gave initial clearance on Wednesday to a prisoner exchange treaty with Iran that could lead to the release of an Iranian diplomat convicted of planning to bomb a rally of an exiled opposition group.
The foreign relations committee of Belgium's Lower House debated the treaty for more than six hours over two days before finally approving it.
The measure still needs to be put before the full 150-member Lower House of Parliament, most likely in the next two weeks, but the chamber normally follows votes of its committees, given they have similar party compositions.
The prisoner exchange might secure the release of a Belgian aid worker who was detained in Iran in February and could help Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who has taught in Belgium and been sentenced to death in Iran.
Iran has called for the release of Assadollah Assadi, sentenced to 20 years in prison in Belgium in 2021 over a foiled 2018 bomb plot. His was the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution. — Reuters