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DJEDDAH (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held close talks with EU foreign ministers on Saturday aimed at charting a way forward in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

The new talks came amid a three-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Liverpool, northern England, which is expected to result in a joint call for Tehran to curb its nuclear ambitions and seize the advisability of continuing negotiations in Vienna.

World powers and Iran resumed these negotiations last week, with the aim of relaunching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the original 2015 agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. That deal collapsed in 2018 when the United States pulled out and Iran began enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by the JCPOA.

An EU source said negotiators were working from texts discussed five months ago, while Iranian officials said they were sticking to a firm position last week.

The indirect US-Iran talks, in which French, British, German, Russian and Chinese diplomats commute because Tehran refuses any direct contact with Washington, aim to get the two sides to resume full respect for the agreement.

“Secretary Blinken had a productive meeting with his counterparts from Germany, France and the UK in Liverpool. They discussed the JCPOA talks and our way forward, ”the State Department said on Saturday.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday insisted that Tehran wanted to revive the deal in negotiations in the Austrian capital.

“The fact that we have presented the text of the Iranian proposal to the negotiating parties shows that we are serious in the talks, and if the other side is also serious about removing the sanctions, we will come to a good deal. We’re definitely looking for a good deal, ”said Raisi.

Iran’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani said Tehran remains firm on the position it presented last week when talks broke down. “The projects we proposed last week are currently being discussed in meetings with other parties,” he said.

EU and US officials accused Iran of making new demands and reversing compromises reached earlier this year.

Iran has also responded to reports that US and Israeli defense chiefs are discussing military exercises to prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails and their country’s leaders demand it.

“Providing conditions for military commanders to test Iranian missiles with real targets will cost the aggressors dearly,” a senior Iranian military official warned.

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