US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrived in Israel Sunday for meetings with senior government officials, to update them on the recent round of Western negotiations with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Sherman, the third-highest official in the US State Department, serves as head of the US delegation to the talks, conducted between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) over Iran’s nuclear program and weapons capabilities.
Accompanied by State Department officials, Sherman was meeting with Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and other senior officials from the Foreign Ministry and security establishment. She was not expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“She will be consulting with Government of Israel counterparts about the P5+1 negotiations in Geneva, and continuing our close coordination with Israel about our ongoing efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” an American official said.
Despite reported progress, the latest round of discussions, conducted over the weekend in Geneva, ended without a deal after a proposed agreement was questioned by France. The sides are to meet again on November 20. Netanyahu has been bitterly critical of the emerging deal, and on Friday publicly urged Secretary of State John Kerry not to sign it.
In an interview with Channel 10 last week, Sherman said the US would inform and consult with Israel about any nuclear deal world powers arrive at with Iran before it is carried out, because the Jewish state’s security is paramount.
“Whatever agreement we reach Israel will know about, understand and consulted with us on, because Israel’s security is bedrock and there is no closer security relationship than what we have with each other,” she said.
Israel has strongly opposed any deal that would leave Iran with the capability to quickly construct a nuclear weapon, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials to publicly come out against what they saw as a flawed potential agreement over the weekend.