Biden Press Secretary: Iran Will Be Addressed in Early Talks With Foreign Leaders

Biden's focus will be rebuilding trust, with American people and foreign allies, press secretary Jen Psaki says, breaking sharply with combative style of Trump administration

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks as she holds the first press briefing of Joe Biden's presidency, at the White House in Washington, DC., January 20, 2021.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks as she holds the first press briefing of Joe Biden's presidency, at the White House in Washington, DC., January 20, 2021.Credit: JIM WATSON - AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – The topic of Iran, and further steps to be taken regarding its nuclear ambitions, will be part of first conversations with foreign leaders, Joe Biden's press secretary said on Wednesday.

"The president has made clear that he believes that through follow-on diplomacy, the United States should seek to lengthen and strengthen nuclear constraints on Iran. Iran must resume compliance with... the deal for that to proceed," Psaki told members of the press, scattered throughout the room because of coronavirus constraints.

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She added that Biden's first conversations with foreign leaders will be "partners and allies, and we certainly anticipate that this will be part of this discussion."

Psaki's comments echo Secretary of State-nominee Antony Blinken's remarks at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, when he said it was "vitally important" that the United States consult with Israel and Gulf states regarding any potential re-engagement with the Iran nuclear deal.

Biden previously promised to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal while building on the agreement, specifically vowing to take on the ballistic missile program. His national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that Iran's ballistic missile program "must be on the table" if the United States re-enters the deal.

This was Jen Psaki's first briefing, during which she said she was expecting disagreements to take place in the briefing room: "That's democracy."

"Rebuilding trust with the American people is central to our focus in the press office," Psaki added.

During Donald Trump's tenure in the White House, press briefings were often rowdy and antagonistic. The last briefing took place on January 7, the day after the Capitol riots. Then-White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had then made a very short statement before getting out of the room, without taking any questions.

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