Axios: US, Iran held indirect talks this week on avoiding more attacks

    WORLD  18 May 2024 - 10:48

    Two top Biden administration officials held indirect talks with Iranian officials in Oman this week on how to avoid escalating regional attacks, two sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Axios.

    The talks — involving President Biden's top Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, and Abram Paley the acting US envoy for Iran — were the first round of discussions between the US and Iran since January, when similar negotiations were held in Oman.

    The talks occurred just over a month after Iran's unprecedented missile assault on Israel on April 13.

    The attack put the Middle East on the cusp of a regional war.

    Iran fired 350 ballistic missiles and drones toward Israel in retaliation for Israel's assassination of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a top Iranian Quds Force general in charge of that nation's military operations in Lebanon and Syria.

    It was the first-ever direct attack on Israel that had been launched from Iranian soil.

    Zahedi had been killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a building near the Iranian Embassy in Damascus.

    Iran's attack was defeated in an unprecedented joint air and missile defence effort by Israel, the US, the U.K., France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

    Several days after the attack, Israel responded with a targeted strike on an S-300 air defence system at an Iranian air force base.

    One of the Biden administration's main goals since Oct. 7 has been to prevent the Gaza conflict from leading to a regional war.

    The US thinks Iran has a lot of influence over its proxies in the region.

    Those include Hezbollah in Lebanon, the pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that conducted attacks against US forces, and the Houthis in Yemen who still attack ships in the Red Sea.

    McGurk and Paley arrived in Oman on Tuesday and met with Omani mediators, the sources said.

    It's unclear who represented Iran at the talks.

    The sources said the talks focused on clarifying the consequences of actions by Iran and its proxies in the region and to discuss US concerns regarding the status of Iran's nuclear program.

    Several Iranian officials hinted in recent weeks about the possibility of Iran moving toward production of nuclear weapons.

    Caliber.Az

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