President Joe Biden told visiting Israeli Mossad spy chief, Yossi Cohen, the U.S. is still a long way to agreeing to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, according to the Axios news site citing a senior Israeli official.
The news came on Friday as the U.S. and Iran held indirect talks in Vienna to discuss a return to the shattered nuclear deal with world powers that former president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
The State Department declined to confirm that a meeting between Cohen and Biden had even taken place.
A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said Biden had merely stopped by during another of Cohen’s meetings to express his condolences over the Mount Meron tragedy, in which 45 people died, that occurred the same day in Israel.
However according to the Jerusalem Post, a sit-down meeting lasting a full hour had taken place between the two.
Axios also cited the Israeli official as saying it wasn’t “a drop in” connected to the Meron stampede, but was a pre-scheduled meeting specifically to discuss Iran.
The meeting took place shortly after a phone call between Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which Biden offered condolences for the tragedy.
Biden was joined by adviser Jake Sullivan and CIA director Bill Burns. The latter two had joined Cohen for another meeting the previous day which “underscored Israel’s unease with ongoing indirect nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States in Vienna and Iran more broadly,” the Associated Press quoted a senior US official in Washington as saying.
“Although other issues were discussed, Israel used Thursday’s meeting to ‘express strong concerns’ about Iran,” he said of the meetings.