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U.S. rules out “goodwill gesture” to get Iran back into negotiations

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The U.S. will not offer Iran concessions just to get nuclear talks restarted, a senior U.S. official told reporters, rejecting an Iranian demand for “a goodwill gesture,” such as the release of $10 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

Why it matters: Indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran over a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal have been suspended since the Iranian elections in June. There is no set date for talks to resume, but the Iranians have signaled it could happen in early November.

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Driving the news: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in an interview on Iranian television on Saturday that the U.S. had tried to contact Iran through different channels during the UN General Assembly.

  • He said he told the mediators that if the U.S. is serious about restarting nuclear talks, it should make a “goodwill gesture” like releasing the funds.

  • Briefing reporters before a U.S.-Israel working group on Iran reconvenes on Tuesday, chaired by the countries’ national security advisers, the senior official said the administration was “committed to the diplomatic track” but willing to pursue “other avenues” if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

  • It will be the first in-person meeting of the working group since President Biden assumed office. A senior U.S. official said the Biden administration and the new Israeli government hold similar assessments of the status of Iran’s nuclear program, but there are differences over how to respond.

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