Biden Raises Possibility of Direct U.S.-Iran Talks

By Reuters

Published February 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The United States is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Biden said Iran - which says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy only - now faced “the most robust sanctions in history” meant to ensure it does not use its programme to develop nuclear weapons.

“But we have also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation,” Biden said. “There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.”

To date, fitful talks on Iran’s nuclear programme have been between Tehran and the EU’s top diplomat representing six world powers including Washington. But analysts have suggested that with his re-election behind him, President Barack Obama might have more leeway to take on direct negotiations with Iran.

That makes the year ahead critical for chances of overcoming a stand-off which, if left to fester further, could see Iran approach a nuclear weapons capability and possibly provoking military action by Israel that could inflame the Middle East.

Progress on Iran would also help ease regional tensions as the United States prepares to pull most combat troops out of Iran’s neighbour Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Asked whether Washington might consider direct talks with Iran to smooth the process, Biden said, “When the Iranian leadership, Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), is serious.

“We have made it clear at the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership, we would not make it a secret that we were doing that, we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself.

“That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise.”

Negotiations with Iran have so far been overseen by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But they have made scant headway, raising fears Iran is simply playing for time while it develops its nuclear know-how.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.