The United States is prepared to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program, the State Department reaffirmed Monday, after Tehran said it would consider such an option.
"We are prepared to meet directly," a State Department spokesperson said.
"We have long held the position that it would be more productive to engage with Iran directly, on both JCPOA negotiations and other issues," the spokesperson said, referring to the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
The spokesperson said that meeting directly would allow "more efficient communication" needed to reach an understanding on what is needed to resuscitate the 2015 deal.
"Given the pace of Iran's nuclear advances, we are almost out of time to reach an understanding on mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA," the official said.
The comments came after Iran said Monday it will consider direct talks with the United States during ongoing negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring the deal.
"Iran is not currently talking with the US directly," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in televised remarks.
"But, if during the negotiation process we get to a point that reaching a good agreement with solid guarantees requires a level of talks with the US, we will not ignore that in our work schedule," he added.
"Our direct talks are with P4+1," he said, referring to Germany and permanent Security Council powers France, China, Britain and Russia.
"And our indirect negotiations with the US currently are... via (EU diplomat Enrique) Mora and one or two other countries present at Vienna talks," he added.
Iran had previously stated that the US must "change course" and return to the nuclear deal, prior to any direct talks between the two arch-foes in Vienna.
The negotiations, which seek to bring Washington back to the accord and ensure Iran returns to its commitments under the deal, started in April, and resumed in late November, after they were suspended in June as Iran elected President Ebrahim Raisi.