Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz
President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken talk on the phone with Defense officials about retaliations against Iran-backed groups’ attack on Americans in Syria, March 24, 2023.

IRNA reported on Saturday that Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York confirmed that indirect talks were held between the two countries last week.

The Iranian mission said on Saturday that Iran and the US had held indirect negotiations in Oman, pointing out that the talks are “an ongoing process.” It also said that the negotiations have not been the first and will not be the last of their kind.


Axios reported on Friday, citing two sources with knowledge of the talks, that two top Biden administration officials – President Biden’s top Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, and Abram Paley the acting US envoy for Iran – held indirect talks with Iranian officials in Oman last week on how to avoid escalating regional attacks. McGurk and Paley arrived in Oman last Tuesday and met with Omani diplomats who served as go-betweens.

Averting a broader regional conflict has been a key priority for the Biden administration in the wake of October 7. The US sees Iran as wielding significant sway over its network of proxies across the Middle East. This encompasses Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon, the pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that have attacked US forces, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen who continue to strike vessels transiting the Red Sea. The administration is wary that an escalation of the Gaza crisis could provoke further destabilizing actions by these Iranian-allied groups.

In recent weeks, several Iranian officials have made remarks suggesting Iran could pursue the development of nuclear weapons – a threat that has not escaped US attention. State Department’s deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters last Monday that “President Biden, Secretary Blinken will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, period. We continue to assess, though, that Iran is not currently undertaking the key activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device, and we don’t believe that the supreme leader has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program.”

Patel then noted: “We have ways of communicating with Iran when it’s in our interest. I’m not going to comment on them, but I will just reiterate that we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, period. And I’m just going to leave it at that for now.”

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