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Israeli fears escalate: Obama sends secret letter to Khamenei

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that US President Barack Obama sent a secret letter in October to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to discuss possible cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) if an agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear programme is signed.

The American newspaper cited officials close to the president who said that the letter "was centred primarily on the common battle against ISIS". The current White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, refused to confirm or deny these claims, only stating, "I am not in a position where I would normally see President Obama's private letters to any world leader."

Earnest did, however, emphasise that while the US has discussed working together with Iran to fight ISIS, this cooperation is not military in nature.

Obama has emphasised that signing an agreement regarding the nuclear file would be a pre-requisite for any subsequent cooperation agreements.

The Wall Street Journal said that this was the fourth letter that Obama sent to Khamenei since 2009, although the Iranian leader has never personally responded to the American president.

Meanwhile, Arabs48 news website pointed out that Israeli fears and concerns about Iran seem to be escalating at a time when there has also been an increasing level of mistrust developing between Tel Aviv and Washington.

The US's regional allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, have both expressed great concern for the growing diplomatic relations between Iran and the US. White House officials confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that they did not inform any of these allies about Obama's letter.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton in Muscat, Oman this weekend. Afterwards, the negotiations will be transferred to Vienna, Austria.

Haaretz reported that the office of the prime minister in Israel declined to comment on the upcoming meeting between Kerry and Zarif, although it is believed that the Iranian nuclear programme may be one reason for increasing tensions between the US and Israel. Yossi Cohen, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, arrived at the White House last week to discuss the Iranian Nuclear programme with his American counterpart Susan Rice.

Israeli Minister for Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steintz is scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to coordinate their position ahead of the final talks with Iran.

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Asia & AmericasIranIsraelMiddle EastNewsUS
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