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US does not deny report US diplomat met with Iran’s UN envoy to convey specific messages
The US has "the means to send specific and firm messages to Iran," a State Department spokesman said. Iran mission denies “negotiations” with US officials.
State Department and White House officials answered obliquely but did not deny a report by Iran International today that US Iran envoy Rob Malley met with Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations Saeid Iravani in recent weeks, saying the United States has the means to send specific and firm messages to Iran, but that reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was not the focus of the communications.
Meantime, the Iranian mission in New York said it had not engaged in “negotiations” with any U.S. officials.
“Even as the JCPOA is not on the agenda, we have made clear that we have the means to deliver specific and firm messages to Iran when it is in America’s interest to do so,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement responding to a query on the Iran International report.
“We have consistently conveyed three messages: stop killing peaceful protesters, stop selling weapons to Russia to kill Ukrainians, and release the Americans you’ve wrongfully detained,” the State Department spokesman’s statement continued. “We also use any opportunity to make clear that we will take necessary steps to protect American citizens.”
“I am not going to get into details about how we deliver these messages, but we do so in close coordination with allies and partners and make no apologies for delivering them firmly and consistently,” Price said.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN in New York said the mission had not engaged in “negotiations” with any American officials. But that statement did not seem to entirely rule out possible contacts or meetings that it would not construe as “negotiations.”
“While the Iranian mission at the United Nations talks with several political and academic figures about the issues of interest, it has not held any negotiations with US officials,” a spokesman for the Iran mission told me.
Iran International reported that it had asked the State Department about “information it obtained, [that] US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley met with Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Saeed Iravani, ‘at least three times in the last two months.’”
“In its response, the [Department of State] did not deny or confirm Malley’s possible meetings with Tehran’s envoy but underlined that the US has its channels to communicate messages to the Iranian side,” Iran International reported.
During the year and a half of active Vienna talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, that got underway in April 2021, and went into hiatus in September 2022, Malley frequently lamented that Iran would not agree to direct talks, requiring cumbersome indirect talks mediated by the European Union and other third parties. Since then-US President Trump quit the JCPOA in 2018, and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, the Iranian leadership has said it would not permit US Iran direct talks until the US returned to the deal and lifted the sanctions it had imposed.
So if Malley and Iravani did hold direct talks, the change would have taken place on the Iran side.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking after a meeting with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, yesterday, said, in diplomacy, countries have to talk to their adversaries.
“When it comes to diplomacy in general, you tend to spend a chunk of your diplomacy engaging with countries with whom you have profound disagreements or worse, including outright adversaries,” Blinken said at a joint press availability with Cleverly at the State Department yesterday (Jan. 17), at the end of responding to a question about Iran. “That’s the nature of what we do.”
“And the one thing that’s clear is that engaging in diplomacy, including with those who are engaged in outrageous actions, is sometimes necessary to try to advance our interests, and it never takes the word ‘no’ from our vocabulary,” Blinken said.
Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Blinken said it was the Iranians who had taken a swift return to the deal off the table when they rejected a final draft on a mutual return to implementation of the pact painstakingly negotiated by the European Union in September.
“With regard to the JCPOA, the Iranians killed the opportunity to come back to that agreement swiftly many months ago,” Blinken said. “There was an opportunity on the table that they rejected…And so the JCPOA has not been on the agenda as a practical matter for many months now. It’s not our focus. We’re focused on what’s happening in Iran. We’re focused on what Iran is doing in terms of the provision of weapons to Russia to use against innocent people and the entire energy grid in Ukraine. And of course, we’re focused on its other destabilizing activities throughout the region.”
Check for updates at the link to the piece.
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