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Iran’s Zarif In Moscow For Talks On Nuclear Deal, Situation in Gulf

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow on May 8.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif departed for Moscow on September 2 to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

The two will discuss the tense situation in the Persian Gulf and the future of the 2015 nuclear deal from which the United States withdrew last year, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on August 28.

Other topics on the agenda include Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and broadening “trade and economic cooperation,” Zakharova said.

As one of the five remaining signatories of the 2015 deal – called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) – under which Tehfran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for an easing of sanctions, Moscow has urged restraint between the United States and Iran.

After pulling out, U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran that target its lucrative oil industry and the financial sector. He has called on sending an international maritime patrol in waters near Iran to safeguard passage for ships.

A series of recent attacks on international ships, which the United States has blamed on Iran, and the seizure of a British tanker, have added to volatility in the region and on the global shipping industry.

Zarif in 2015 was Iran's chief negotiator for the JCPA.

Iran, however, has begun reducing some of its commitments under the agreement. Tehran says it is no longer bound to its JCPA commitments and has called on the remining signatories, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China to provide relief.

In announcing the withdrawal, Trump said the JCPA’s terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran's missile program or Tehran's support for militants in the region.

Iran has denied it supports insurgent activity and said its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

Meanwhile, the deal's European signatories have tried to salvage the accord, with Macron leading efforts to defuse the crisis by finding ways of resuming dialogue.

Lavrov and Zarif last met in May when Russia celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

With reporting by TASS, Reuters, Mehr News, and the Iranian Project