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Turkey hopes US will rejoin Iran nuclear deal

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey hopes the United States will return to the nuclear deal with Iran under U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Istanbul, Cavusoglu said Turkey would also like to see sanctions imposed on Iran lifted.

“I hope that with the Biden administration, the United States return to this agreement and cooperation on the (nuclear) issue is restored,” Cavusoglu said. “In this way, God willing, the sanctions and embargoes imposed on brotherly Iran are lifted.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Iran’s nuclear deal in 2018. Under the deal, Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

After the U.S. then ramped up sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development. Iranian state TV reported Thursday that Iran has exceeded 17 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium within a month, moving its nuclear program closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels.

Biden, who was vice president when the deal was signed during the Obama administration, has said he hopes to return the U.S. to the deal.

“The United States unilaterally withdrew from this comprehensive course of action,” Zarif told journalists, speaking through an interpreter. “It is the duty of the United States to return to this agreement and to fulfill its obligations.

He added: “The moment the United States fulfills its commitments, we would be prepared to fulfill ours.”

Zarif was in Turkey as part of a tour of countries of the south Caucasus aimed at building support for the creation of a regional platform that would include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey, and encourage cooperation between the countries.

The initiative was proposed following a cease-fire agreement in November that halted weeks of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The existing cease-fire must be rendered more lasting and trade and economic cooperation must be invigorated,” Zarif said.

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