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Iran Dismisses Russia's Mediation Offer, Direct Talks With US

RUSSIA -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech during an annual meeting with students of the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) in Moscow on September 1, 2020

Speaking on Friday, the Iranian President's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi dismissed any plans for direct talks with the United States after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to mediate between Iran and the United States.

Speaking to Tasnim News Agency, Vaezi said that Iran has already made it clear that, in order for Iran to negotiate with the U.S., the U.S. must admit that it was a mistake to attempt to reimpose sanctions on Iran and return to the 2015 nuclear deal which it abandoned in May 2018.

"We have no intention of negotiating with Americans as we have already made clear," Vaezi said.

Vaezi also suggested that other international players besides the Russian Foreign Minister have also proposed to mediate between Tehran and Washington.

In a speech delivered at MGIMO University on Tuesday, Lavrov said Moscow is ready to facilitate direct dialogue between the two countries. “If both countries are interested, we are ready to hold talks with the two sides to pave the way for the direct talks," Lavrov said. "We think that it’s better to directly address differences and issues and get answers."

Lavrov also criticized the U.S. move to restore the U.N. sanctions on Iran by triggering the "snapback" provision of the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In 2018, the U.S. officially abandoned the agreement officially, with Lavrov arguing that the U.S. has lost all of JCPOA rights by pulling out of the deal.

On Tuesday, after a meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, European Union representative Helga Schmid, who chaired the meeting, tweeted that all participants were "united in resolve to preserve the Iran deal" and "find a way to ensure full implementation of the agreement despite current challenges."

The disagreement over the JCPOA between the U.S. and other signatories of the deal -- consisting of Britain, France, Germany and Iran allies China and Russia – has set the stage for a potential crisis in the Security Council.

Abdou Abarry, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.N. who is chairing the Security Council in September, said on Wednesday that he will ignore the U.S. attempt to restore U.N. sanctions on Iran.