WASHINGTON – A European Union representative spoke Wednesday with an Iranian
counterpart to set up another round of talks between Tehran and world
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that a deputy
to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had spoken to an Iranian negotiator
to set up a possible time and place to meet along with the rest of the so-called
P5+1, which includes the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and
“We continue to make clear to the Iranian side that in that
structure the door remains open to talks if they are serious,” Nuland said,
including in a bilateral framework.
She indicated that she was not
familiar with Israeli reports saying Washington had told Tehran it would hold
separate one-on-one discussions with a four- to five-month timeframe without
consulting with Israel.
But she stressed that Israel was “our ally and
partner, and we consult with them regularly and are completely
Nuland also said the United States was talking openly with
Israel about the latter’s actions toward the Palestinian Authority and the
withholding of tax revenues in the wake of the Palestinians’ bid for partial
recognition at the UN.
“We are making clear to the government of Israel
that we think funding of the Palestinian Authority is necessary ,” she said. “It
should work with the PA to address the issues that they have and that all sides
need to take steps to reduce tensions, to build trust, to create the kind of
climate that’s going to get us back to direct talks.”
strongly denied rumors that the US had a backchannel to Hamas, a notion that has
been circulating amid third-party ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel in
the wake of last month’s violence in Gaza.
“There have been some bizarre
claims out there that Hamas has a backchannel to the US government,” Nuland
said. “These assertions are completely untrue. There is no such
She added that the American position on Hamas had not
changed and that the fiery comments made recently during Hamas leader Khaled
Mashaal’s visit to Gaza reinforced the fact that Hamas “is not a partner for
Unless Hamas “unambiguously” accepts the Quartet principles that
it recognize Israel, respect previous agreements and renounce violence, she
declared, “it cannot be a partner in any negotiations.”
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