President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an hour-long phone conversation on Wednesday, four weeks after Mr. Biden took office and at a time of clear disagreement over the new administration’s efforts to re-enter the country. nuclear deal with Iran.
The two countries have released official descriptions of the call which described it in the most vague terms and gave no details of the conversation, particularly on Iran. The White House statement simply said that “together the leaders discussed the importance of continuing close consultations on regional security issues, including Iran.”
This statement was remarkable because Israeli officials still often express resentment that President Barack Obama kept them in the dark about Iran’s early approaches in the run-up to the negotiations that ultimately led to the 2015 deal.
The two negotiators who conducted this secret diplomacy were Jake Sullivan, who is now Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, and William J. Burns, his candidate for the post of director of the CIA. Mr. Netanyahu actively lobbied the deal in Congress and urged President Donald J. Trump to drop it, which he did in 2018.
Mr Biden told reporters that the call with Mr Netanyahu was a “good conversation” but did not provide any details. Israeli officials feared it was so delayed and that it only happened after Biden spoke with leaders of other allies, but also with opponents like Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. officials said the delay didn’t matter, but officials were clearly trying to agree on a negotiating strategy with Iran before hiring Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s office described the conversation in personal terms, saying in a statement that “the two leaders noted their personal ties of many years and said they would work together to continue to strengthen the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. United States”
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The White House description, on the other hand, mentioned the strength of the alliance but said nothing about the relationship between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu, as part of an effort by the new administration to de-personalize interactions between the two. two countries.
“The president affirmed his personal history of unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and expressed his intention to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation,” the statement said. the White House. He reaffirmed Mr Biden’s decision to build on the Abrahamic Accords, the regional agreements that Israel has reached with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – two main Arab allies of the United States – at the end of the administration Trump.
The conversation with the two leaders took place before Mr Biden’s Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken held talks this week with Britain, Germany and France, European nations that have participated in the negotiations on Iran. But administration officials don’t seem in any rush to engage directly with the Iranians or feel constrained by the deadlines set in Tehran.
The Iranian government told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday that from next week Tehran would no longer be bound by the “additional protocol,” an agreement with United Nations inspectors that allows for the control of undeclared nuclear facilities. Allowing these more in-depth spot inspections was a key requirement of the Iran nuclear deal.
In an interview with NPR on Tuesday, Mr Blinken made it clear that even if the United States was able to return to the deal, it would have to be the first step in a larger and more lasting deal, and not only a replica of what the Obama administration agreed to almost six years ago
“Time has passed,” said Blinken. “And so, if we’re going to get back to the deal, if Iran comes back to compliance and we do the same, we have to work on a longer and stronger deal than the original one.”