US’s top Iran negotiator updates Peres on latest talks

Welcoming Wendy Sherman, president says he’s ‘convinced Obama is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapon,’ congratulates Hagel on confirmation

senior American diplomat involved in talks with Iran met Thursday with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem a day after world power nuclear talks with Iran ended in Kazakhstan.

Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs and the top American negotiator with Iran over its controversial nuclear program, headed the American delegation at this week’s Almaty talks before flying to Israel.

Washington’s top negotiator with Iran and Israel’s president discussed the Almaty talks and the next round of negotiations with Iran.

“After I heard in detail Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s updates, I continue to be convinced that [US President Barack] Obama is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and that Obama and the American government will not cease their important efforts until a solution is found to prevent the Iranian danger,” Peres said.

“The US has no closer friend than you,” Sherman said of Israel, adding that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were looking forward to their upcoming trips to Israel and the region and the opportunity to discuss a variety of matters.

Concerning newly confirmed US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Peres said he disagreed with skepticism regarding Hagel’s positions vis-à-vis Israel.

“I have no doubt about his deep commitment to Israel’s security,” Peres said. “I congratulate Hagel on his appointment and am sure that we will continue to work together for the sake of security and peace in the Middle East.”

The talks in Kazakhstan ended Wednesday, with world powers offering broader concessions than ever to Iran in attempts to keep alive diplomatic channels that seek to rein in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and prevent it from building an atomic weapon.

Iranian top negotiator Saeed Jalili said the offer represented a “turning point” by world powers to compromise on Tehran’s uranium-enrichment program after years of delicate negotiations that nearly dissolved last June.

The proposal, which would allow Iran to keep a limited amount of highly enriched uranium — but not to make any more — stops short of demanding the full shutdown of an underground nuclear facility, and offers to remove some trade sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.

The P5+1 and Iran will reconvene for another round of negotiations in Almaty in April.

Sherman also paid Israel a visit last May, a day after a nuclear summit in Baghdad between the P5+1 and Iran failed to yield tangible results.

Ahead of her visit last year, the State Department said Sherman’s visit aimed to “reaffirm our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security” through consultation on regional issues.

Peres will fly to Strasbourg next week to address the European Parliament, the first address by an Israeli head of state before the pan-European body. He will meet with heads of state to discuss the advancement of Israeli economic interests on the Continent.

By The Times of Israel


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