Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian Reuters

France's Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Tuesday that Iran and world powers are still far from any agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal despite recent progress.

"The discussions are ongoing. They are slow, too slow and that creates a gap that jeopardizes the chance of finding a solution that respects the interests of all sides," Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing, according to the Reuters news agency.

"Bits of progress were made at the end of December, but we are still far from concluding this negotiation," he added.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

However, it has held indirect talks with the US on reviving the deal. Negotiations to restore the deal resumed in late November after they were suspended in June.

Western diplomats have indicated they are hoping to have a breakthrough by the end of January or early February, but sharp differences remain with the toughest issues still unresolved.

On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister said the talks are approaching a "good agreement" but reaching one soon depends on the other parties.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry made clear that the Islamic Republic would not settle for an interim agreement.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly demanded that the US lift sanctions imposed on Iran and also reassure Iran it will not abandon the deal again as a precondition for its returning to compliance with the deal.

US officials have said that while they prefer the diplomatic route to reach an agreement with Iran, there are other options on the table should that fail.

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