US Secretary of State John Kerry has vehemently denied that Washington linked negotiations to reach a nuclear deal with Iran to other issues facing the Middle East.
“There is no linkage whatsoever of the nuclear discussions with any other issue,” Kerry told reporters Saturday in Beijing, where he was attending annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.
The top US diplomat made the remarks after the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that President Barack Obama sent a letter to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei last month about possible cooperation in the fight against the ISIL terrorist group. CONTINUE READING…
Citing “people briefed on the correspondence,” the Journal said that joint operations against the terrorist group, which has seized vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, could only occur after Tehran and the P5+1 reached a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
Kerry refused to confirm or deny whether there was such a letter.
“No conversation, no agreement, no exchange, nothing has created any kind of a deal or agreement with respect to any of the events that are at stake in the Middle East,” he said.
Ayatollah Khamenei has said that the US-led campaign against ISIL is not genuine and that groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda were created to confront Iran and counter the wave of Islamic awakening in the Middle East and Africa.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, China, France, Britain and the US — plus Germany will open a new round of talks about Tehran’s nuclear energy program in the Omani capital Muscat on November 11.
Last November, the two sides clinched an interim nuclear accord, which took effect on January 20 and expired six months later. However, both parties agreed to extend their talks until November 24 as they remained divided on a number of key issues.
Sources close to the Iranian negotiating team say the main stumbling block to resolving Western dispute over Iran’s nuclear issue is the removal of sanctions, not the number of centrifuges or the level of uranium enrichment.
During a series of meetings in Paris on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry said it would be more difficult to reach an accord with Iran if the nuclear talks extend beyond the Nov. 24 deadline.
“I want to get this done,” Kerry said after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, adding, “And we are driving toward the finish with a view of trying to get it done.”