Secret Iran-US talks on Gaza war undermined by Raisi death

Secret Iran-US talks on Gaza war undermined by Raisi death
# 24 May 2024 00:32 (UTC +04:00)

Secret talks between Iran and the United States in Oman were making good progress, but have now been jeopardised by the sudden death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister, APA reports citing Middle East Eye.

Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden's senior Middle East adviser, held indirect negotiations earlier this month with Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s point man for negotiations with the West, according to three Iranian sources close to the talks.

The talks took place in Muscat, which hosted secret meetings between Tehran and Washington a decade ago that led to the 2015 JCPOA (joint comprehensive plan of action) nuclear agreement.

They were the first round of discussions between the US and Iran since January.

One source close to the talks, which were first reported by Axios on Friday, told Middle East Eye that discussions between Bagheri Kani and McGurk were progressing well and were close to reaching some sort of agreement.

Bagheri Kani was deputy foreign minister at the time, but following the death of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in the helicopter crash that killed Raisi on Sunday, he is now acting foreign minister.

The talks focused on three subjects: a shared desire for a change in government in Israel; ending Israel’s war on Gaza; and preventing the conflict from spreading elsewhere in the region.

Another round of US-Iran talks are not expected soon.

Following Raisi’s death, Iran needs to hold a presidential election within 50 days, and it is unlikely that major foreign policy decisions will be taken during this period of uncertainty. US presidential elections are meanwhile due in November.

"Given this situation, we should expect disruptions and a halt in negotiations with the Americans,” an analyst who previously worked for the ruling establishment told MEE.

“Since both the president and the foreign minister have passed away and an election is due soon, negotiations will likely be delayed until after the election, similar to what happened during the 2021 presidential race when talks were put on hold until after the election."