WASHINGTON – Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, is headed to the Middle East, where he will visit Israel among other countries over the next week and a half in advance of a new round of talks aimed at restarting the Iranian nuclear deal.
Malley will lead an interagency team that will visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in addition to Israel, between November 11 and 20 to “hold consultations with partners and attend a series of regional engagements,” according to the State Department.
Malley “will coordinate our approaches on a broad range of concerns with Iran, including its destabilizing activities in the region and the upcoming seventh round of talks on a mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA,” the State Department said, referring to the international nuclear pact.
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Malley’s regional visit follows this week’s unprecedented joint military naval exercise in the Red Sea involving the United States, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain and shortly after hundreds of U.S. Marines participated in an extended joint exercise with Israeli commandos in Eilat.
Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said earlier this week that the army is accelerating its operational plans and readiness to deal with the Iranian threat. For his part, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel would not allow Iranian proxies to obtain weapons that would damage Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.
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The Biden administration recently announced its intention to hold a seventh round of negotiations aimed at a possible return to the 2015 international nuclear agreement, to be held in Vienna on November 29. The talks follow President Donald Trump’s announcement in 2018 of an American withdrawal from the pact.
The Biden administration has maintained that it continues to “seek constructive engagement in Vienna,” although it has indicated growing impatience with Iran’s posture toward a potential return to full compliance with the deal.