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Lapid Heads to the US for Official Visit

October 12, 2021

by: Ilse Strauss

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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 | Foreign Minister Yair Lapid took off last night for a three-day official trip to Washington for a series of high-level meetings with senior members of the Biden administration, Jewish leaders and his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Iran—and the Islamic Republic signalling its intention to return to the negotiation table in Vienna and breathe new life into the 2015 nuclear accord—reportedly tops the agenda of all Lapid’s meetings.

The itinerary of the visit by Israel’s top diplomat, the first by an Israeli foreign minister since President Joe Biden took office, include get-togethers with US Vice President Kamala Harris, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The visit will also include a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, concluding with a joint press conference and a celebratory dinner to mark the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords.

Lapid will reportedly advocate for action against Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran is actively working to advance. Israel and the US do not see eye to eye on the merit of negotiating with Iran, with Biden a proponent for a return to the 2015 accord. Although the return talks have been at an impasse since the election of Iran’s ultra conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in June, Iranian and US officials are hopeful that the parties may return to the negotiation table in Vienna “soon.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry even put the timeframe at a few weeks.

The 2015 nuclear deal offered the embattled Islamic Republic sanction relief in exchange for curbing their nuclear ambitions. However, former US President Donald Trump slated the accord as the “worst deal in history” and withdrew from it in 2018, reimposing crippling sanctions.

Since then, Tehran has steadily been defaulting on its commitments, advancing its program in the race to the nuclear breakout finish line. Biden favors a return, but Iran has new prerequisites and additional hoops for world powers to jump through before calling halt to their nuclear advances. Tehran demands that the US drop all sanctions, while the US demands that Iran make the first move.

For its part, Israel firmly stands against any return to what former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned as a “bad deal.” In fact, during the last meeting between Lapid and Blinken in June, the Israeli foreign minister said Israel has “some serious reservations” about the renegotiations in Vienna.

Despite the line-up of meetings with high-level officials this week, Israeli media is pessimistic that Lapid’s visit will bear the desired fruit and that the US will alter its outlook regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions—and the best way to put a stop to them. Barring a significant intervention, the seventh round of nuclear talks with Iran will kick off in the Austrian capital later this month.

Posted on October 12, 2021

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 12, 2021)

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/Government Press Office (Israel)/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

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