CIA chief heading to Israel, Palestine as Iran tensions simmer: Reports
The head of the Central Intelligence Agency is expected to travel to Israel and Palestine this week, Israeli officials were quoted as saying in media reports published Monday.
CIA director Bill Burns will visit Israel first before meeting Palestinian officials in Ramallah, Axios first reported.
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Burns is scheduled to meet the head of the Mossad, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett and other senior officials.
“Israeli officials say the talks will focus on Iran’s nuclear program and regional activity, and that Israel hopes to hear more about US policy toward the new Iranian government and a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal,” Axios reported.
The CIA chief will also meet with Majid Faraj and other Palestinian officials, the report added.
Burns’ visit comes less than a week after a senior Israeli delegation visited Washington to discuss mainly Iran.
The Biden administration has been forced to wait for Iran to resume talks on the now-defunct 2015 nuclear deal, also referred to as the JCPOA.
After six rounds of indirect talks in Vienna, Tehran decided to suspend negotiations until a new Iranian president took office.
On Monday, the new President Ebrahim Raisi said, “the rights of the Iranian people must be upheld, and the interests of our nation ensured” in any negotiations.
His comments came during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged Raisi to resume the Vienna talks “without any delay.”
Meanwhile, Iran has been accused of further destabilizing the region following allegations that it carried out attacks on tankers in the Arabian Sea.
The G7, and separately Israel, have vowed to respond to the drone attack, which killed two crew members on an Israeli-linked ship two weeks ago.
And in recent days, the border between Lebanon and Israel witnessed heightened tensions following exchanges of fire and the first Israeli airstrike inside Lebanese territories in years.
Iran-backed Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets at the disputed Shebaa Farms, occupied by Israel but claimed by both Lebanon and Syria.
Read more: US urges calm after Hezbollah-Israel violence, calls on Lebanon govt to do more