State Department prepares to continue talks on Iran deal

WASHINGTON – State Department spokesman Ned Price responded to a question about Special Envoy Rob Malley’s visit to Israel and said he had “excellent engagements” with Israeli officials. Malley’s trip to the Middle East comes two weeks before the next round of Vienna talks, the first round of indirect negotiations since May.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Price said that “close consultation and coordination will continue as we approach November 29 and, of course, once negotiations are resumed.”

“[Malley] he met with Israel’s foreign minister, defense minister, national security adviser, Mossad director, among other Israeli counterparts, ”Price said. “When it comes to our [and] Gulf Partners – during the previous six rounds of indirect negotiations in Vienna [we] I have regularly updated you on the course of these discussions. And as we prepare for the resumption of those talks, the seventh round in Vienna, this is an opportunity to compare notes and prepare for that seventh round, “he added.

Richard Goldberg, senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, said it is important that the Biden administration consult closely with key allies in the region before any engagement with Iran. “So the fact that Malley is taking this trip is positive,” he said. “The question, of course, is whether you are ticking a box for diplomatic optics or whether any of the concerns and objections you hear are being taken into consideration. To date, the signs point to the former. “

Israel and the Gulf countries probably have a lot of questions for Malley, Goldberg continued. “Will the United States go ahead with a resolution censuring Iran at the next IAEA board meeting?” Will there be a deadline to abandon indirect talks with Iran and return to the application of sanctions? Will the United States contemplate anything less than a return to the JCPOA, that is, will Malley be open to negotiating a different deal that offers relief from Iran’s sanctions for even more limited nuclear concessions than the JCPOA? Goldberg said.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during the daily press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, USA, February 22, 2021 (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / POOL VIA REUTERS)

IRAN WAS ALSO a topic of discussion between Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Idan Roll, and US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. The two met at the State Department on Tuesday.

According to Roll’s office, the two “discussed Iran and the Middle East security issues.” They also talked about the regional potential of the Abrahamic Accords and the need to expand them. Roll thanked Sherman in a statement “for America’s friendship and support,” and said the two had a constructive discussion on a wide range of regional issues.

According to the State Department, “the undersecretary and deputy foreign minister discussed the importance of the US-Israel partnership and regional security issues.”

“The undersecretary reiterated the administration’s firm belief that Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, prosperity and dignity,” the State Department said in a statement. “The undersecretary also emphasized the firm commitment of the United States to the security of Israel.”

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