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US initiates low-key diplomatic contacts with Iran to ease tensions: Report

June 14, 2023 at 6:22 pm

The administration of US President, Joe Biden, has quietly recommenced negotiations with Iran to secure the release of American prisoners and curb Tehran’s nuclear program, according to a report Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US approved the release of €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) held by Iraq for Iranian electricity and gas imports, citing those close to the discussions.

The funds were previously frozen due to economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

The report said US officials characterised the transfer as a customary procedure and unrelated to ongoing discussions.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, confirmed the transfer.

READ: Iran to access $24bn in frozen assets

“We approved a transaction, consistent with previous transactions that have been approved, to allow Iran to access funds held in accounts in Iraq for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable transactions.”

Miller noted that Washington always had the ability to deliver messages to Tehran “when it’s in the interests” of the US.

He also said Biden is committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.

“And we believe that diplomacy is the best means to accomplish that, though we have been clear that we have taken no option off the table,” he said.

It was also reported that White House officials have made at least three visits to Oman for additional indirect contacts, following the commencement of discussions between senior US and Iranian officials in New York last December.

Omani officials have played a role in conveying messages between the two parties, according to the newspaper.

READ: US, Iranian officials hold indirect meetings in Oman