Biden’s Point Man on Iran Says White House Wants to Avoid Clash With Israel Over Return to Iran Deal

US diplomat Rob Malley. Photo: International Peace Institute.

The Biden administration’s point man on Iran said Wednesday that the White House wants to avoid the kind of conflict with Israel that occurred during the negotiation of the original 2015 nuclear deal.

The clash over the 2015 deal led to a major rift between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, with Netanyahu campaigning heavily against the deal, including with a controversial speech before the US Congress.

The State Department envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, told Axios that the Biden White House wants to avoid such a confrontation, and will consult with Israel on any return to the deal, as well as ensuring that Israel will not be kept in the dark on developments.

“We don’t always agree, but the talks are extremely open and positive,” Malley said. “While we may have different interpretations and views as to what happened in 2015-2016, neither of us wishes to repeat it.”

Israel is reportedly pleased by the administration’s decision to reconvene a strategic forum in which Israeli and US officials will collaborate on the process of dealing with the Iran issue.

According to Axios, Israel will present the latest intelligence it has acquired on Iran, and see if it conforms with US intelligence on the subject, at the first meeting of the forum on Thursday.

Leading the talks, which will take place via video conference, will be Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan.

However, Malley also told Axios that the US does seek direct talks with Iran, and has made this clear to the Iranians.

“Our view is that direct talks are more effective and less prone to misunderstanding, but for us the substance is more important than the format,” he said.

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