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U.S. Negotiators Prepare for Return to Iran Nuclear Talks

GlobalJun 24, 2021 07:51
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2/2 © Bloomberg. Supporters hold photographs of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's president, as they celebrate his presidential election win in Imam Hossein Square in Tehran, Iran, on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Voters overwhelmingly picked Raisi on Friday, albeit on a low turnout. 2/2

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. negotiators are prepared to return to a seventh round of indirect talks with Iran on re-entering on 2015 nuclear deal once the leadership in Tehran is ready, a senior administration official said.

President Joe Biden’s negotiating team, led by Iran envoy Robert Malley, could return to talks in Vienna as early as next week, though that date might be pushed back, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

Earlier Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post said the administration wanted to delay the start of the next round of talks to hear from Israel’s new government on the issue. The newspaper said the administration believes it’s worth a delay to better cooperate with Israel.

But the administration official said Malley’s team has consulted with Israeli officials, including the new government, regularly, and described those conversations as “substantive.” The U.S. is ready to go back to Vienna when Iran, which recently elected a new, hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi, has completed its own process.I

In comments to state TV, Raisi called on the U.S. this week to fulfill its commitments under the nuclear deal by lifting sanctions. He said Iran would continue to diplomatic efforts to revive the accord and sought verification for sanctions removal, in his first remarks as the country’s president-elect.

Oil markets are closely watching the negotiations for signs of how soon the U.S. penalties are likely to be removed and how quickly Iran, a member of OPEC, will increase oil production and boost exports of crude.

Israel’s new government, like its predecessor, is opposed to a re-entry to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the accord that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. But top American officials say they consult regularly with Israel on the matter given their close alliance.

“The fact is the United States and Israel are absolutely united in the proposition that Iran must never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Jerusalem last month. “We share exactly the same goal. It’s no secret that we sometimes have our differences with regard to the best way to achieve that goal, and that’s what allies and partners do. We work together, try to find the best way to achieve a common objective.”

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, met Wednesday with Aviv Kohavi, chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Emily Horne, a National Security Council spokesperson, said in a statement.

“The officials discussed the challenges to security and stability in the Middle East, including the threat posed by Iran’s malign activities in the region, and Mr. Sullivan affirmed the president’s commitment to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon,” Horne said.

(Updates with Sullivan-Kochavi meeting, starting in penultimate paragraph.)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

U.S. Negotiators Prepare for Return to Iran Nuclear Talks

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