Iran denies informal talks with Biden team

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Islam News – Spokesman for the Iranian government Ali Rabiee denied reports that talks have been held behind the scenes between Iranian diplomats and representatives of US President-elect Joe Biden.

“We have not received any message from Mr. Biden’s team,” Rabiee told a virtual presser in Tehran, Jan. 18 — just two days before the incoming president’s inauguration. He was addressing media speculation about the two sides engaging in informal talks that could set out the framework for future negotiations on the United States returning to the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In a Jan. 16 report, Israel’s Channel 12 claimed that negotiations had already started between unnamed members of Biden’s circle and Iranian officials about the new administration’s plans to rejoin the 2015 accord. No further details were released.

Rabiee reaffirmed Iran’s official position that any such negotiations would be “pointless” before the new US government lifts sanctions that were triggered by President Donald Trump’s departure from the JCPOA. He noted that Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran has failed, advising Biden that “there is no other wise way” than to abolish the policy.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has on multiple occasions signaled willingness for rapprochement with the incoming US administration should the latter remove the sanctions. Yet the stance has pitted Rouhani against powerful hard-liners at home who have supported such contentious measures such as boosting nuclear enrichment to a level that may overshadow any US-Iran opening.

Source: al-monitor