A New York Times report on Shabbos suggesting that the U.S. and Iran have secretly agreed to hold one-on-one nuclear negotiations has elicited a White House denial and a host of Israeli responses.
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon confirmed that the U.S. was in fact in contact with Iran, but not directly. In an interview with Israel Radio, Ya’alon said, “There have been attempts to take advantage of the fact that U.S. representatives meet with Iranian officials during world power gatherings. But [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei is opposed to such direct contact.”
“The latest report has been denied, and I believe the White House’s denial. It is no secret that there are contacts between the U.S. and Iran through indirect channels, but Iran has consistently refused [bilateral talks] until now, and I don’t know of any change in that position, and certainly not of any agreements,” Ya’alon continued.
“There have been efforts all along to take advantage of U.S. meetings with Iranians at world power gatherings to create a direct channel, but Khamenei is opposed, so the report may have been premature. It hasn’t happened yet.
“We would be very happy if Iran were to abandon its nuclear program. Israel is not opposed, as long as Iran halts its nuclear program as a result of direct talks between them and the U.S. Israel would welcome it.”
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