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President-elect Raisi backs nuclear talks, rules out meeting Biden

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Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday said he backed talks between Iran and six world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, but flatly rejected meeting U.S. President Joe Biden, even if Washington removed all sanctions.

In his first news conference since he was elected on Friday, the hardline cleric urged Americans and Europeans to fulfill their commitments to the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA:

IRANIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT, EBRAHIM RAISI (in Farsi): 鈥淭he Americans violated the JCPOA and the Europeans did not fulfill their commitments. What I want to stress to the U.S. is that based on the nuclear deal, you were obligated to lift the sanctions and you did not; return and fulfill your commitments. To the Europeans I say that they should definitely not remain pressured by American policies and should fulfill their commitments under the JCPOA."

Negotiations have been under way in Vienna since April to work out how Iran and the U.S. can both return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which Washington abandoned in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump before reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Iran has subsequently breached the deal's limits on enrichment of uranium designed to minimize the risk of it developing nuclear weapons potential.

Tehran has long denied having any such ambition.

But when asked if he would meet U.S. President Joe Biden if sanctions were lifted, Raisi responded with a "No".

60-year-old Raisi, a strident critic of the West, will take over from pragmatist Hassan Rouhani on Aug. 3. Raisi said his foreign policy priority would be improving ties with Iran's Gulf Arab neighbors, while calling on Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia to immediately halt its intervention in Yemen.

Iranian and Western officials alike say Raisi's rise is unlikely to alter Iran's negotiating stance in talks to revive the nuclear deal - Iran's hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on all major policy.

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