A top U.S. official on Thursday held out the prospect of limited sanctions relief for Iran if it takes steps to address concerns about its nuclear program, but said the fundamental sanctions must stay until all concerns have been dealt with.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman also told lawmakers it would be helpful for the U.S. Senate to hold off on imposing additional sanctions on Iran ahead of an Oct. 15-16 meeting with Iranian officials in Geneva, Reuters news agency reported.
While Sherman said the Obama administration was committed to fully enforcing the U.S. sanctions that are already on the books, the administration's ability to do so was hampered by the U.S. government shutdown.
The Senate Banking Committee was due in September to review a new package of sanctions, but it now will not do so for a few more weeks.
The United States is under pressure not to squeeze Iran too hard, amid hopes for improved ties between both countries.
The sanctions delay could create a better atmosphere at talks between Iran and six major nations in Geneva on Oct. 15-16, the first such encounter since President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rowhani held a historic phone call last week.