Iran’s foreign minister confirms Oman-brokered talks ongoing with US

Visiting Beirut, Ali Bagheri says negotiations with Washington ‘never stopped,’ adds that he chose Lebanon as first stop in role since it is ‘cradle of resistance’ against Israel

Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri (C) meets with his Lebanese counterpart (not pictured) in Beirut on June 3, 2024. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)
Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri (C) meets with his Lebanese counterpart (not pictured) in Beirut on June 3, 2024. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)

Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri said Monday that his government was engaged in negotiations with arch-foe the United States hosted by the Gulf sultanate of Oman.

Asked about the issue at a news conference during a visit to Beirut, Bagheri said, “We have always continued out negotiations… and they have never stopped.”

Washington and Tehran have not had direct diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

The British daily Financial Times reported in March that Bagheri was involved in indirect talks with the United States in Oman in early 2024, against the backdrop of heightened regional tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Last month, The Associated Press reported that Bagheri held indirect talks in Oman in May with Brett McGurk, a top Middle East adviser to Biden, with Omani officials shuttling messages between the two diplomats in the negotiations, aimed a preventing a regional escalation.

Bagheri arrived Monday in Lebanon, on his first foreign trip since assuming the interim role following the death of his predecessor, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash last month that also killed Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib (R) and Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri hold a press conference in Beirut on June 3, 2024. (ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

Bagheri said the choice of destination for his visit was “because Lebanon is the cradle of resistance” against Israel. Iran is a major source of financial and military support for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has been exchanging cross-border fire with Israel almost daily since October 8.

Bagheri, Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator, said discussions with Western powers about Tehran’s atomic activities were ongoing. Western governments fear Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon — a claim the Islamic Republic has always denied.

“We advise them not to miss the opportunity any further and compensate for the actions that they must have carried out but didn’t,” Bagheri said, as a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog opened in Vienna.

Diplomats told AFP that Britain, France and Germany will seek to censure Tehran over its lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the organization’s board meeting.

At the last board meeting in March, European powers shelved their plans to confront Iran because of a lack of support from Washington.

Bagheri is due to travel from Lebanon to Syria on Tuesday.

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