Flurry of diplomatic contacts fuel Iran deal speculation

Flurry of diplomatic contacts fuel Iran deal speculation
In this May 3, 2021, photo, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speak at a news conference at Downing Street. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: A flurry of diplomatic reports and contacts of major progress suggest that indirect talks between the United States and Iran may be nearing an agreement. That’s despite efforts by US officials to play down chances of an imminent deal that would bring the US and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The recent diplomatic contacts sparks Iran deal speculation.

With the negotiations in Vienna on hiatus, the United States and Britain on Monday denied Iranian reports that any agreement was at hand with Iran for a swap of British and American prisoners. Such an exchange could be a confidence-building measure to revive the nuclear deal between Iran and other world power.

A US return to the Iran nuclear deal would be the biggest and most controversial foreign policy initiative in the early months of Biden’s presidency.

It would revive a deal that top aides of president Biden put together during their years in the Obama administration, only to see President Trump pull out and try to prevent the US from ever returning.

Rejoining in the deal — and making the concessions required to do so — would enrage Republicans and likely unsettle Israel and Gulf Arab allies.

Even as the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab rejected the prisoner swap reports at a news conference on Monday in London, senior diplomats from the US were in the Middle East meeting Gulf Arab leaders.

And two of the nuclear deal’s biggest proponents in Congress — Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Chris Coons — were touring the region.

Those discussions follow a week of top-level meetings in the US between Biden; his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan; special Iran envoy Rob Malley; Antony Blinken; his deputy, Wendy Sherman; and others with the head of Israel’s spy agency and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top national security aide.

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