Iran's top diplomat confirms talks with US as adviser killed in Syria

Iran's top diplomat confirms talks with US as adviser killed in Syria
Iran's acting foreign minister confirmed on Monday that his government was in talks with the US, as an Israeli strike killed another IRGC adviser in Syria.
3 min read
Bagheri (L) is due to travel from Lebanon to Syria on Tuesday [Getty/file photo]

Iran's acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri said Monday his government was engaged in negotiations with arch-foe the United States hosted by the Gulf sultanate of Oman.

Asked about the issue at a news conference during a visit to Beirut, Bagheri said "we have always continued out negotiations... and they have never stopped."

Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

The British daily Financial Times reported in March that Bagheri was involved in indirect talks with the United States in Oman in early 2024, against the backdrop of heightened regional tensions over Israel's war in the Gaza Strip.

The United States is Israel's close ally and top provider of military assistance, while Iran backs the Palestinian group Hamas.

Bagheri arrived Monday in Lebanon, on his first foreign trip since assuming the interim role following the death of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash last month that also killed Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Bagheri said the choice of destination for his visit was "because Lebanon is the cradle of resistance" against Israel.

Iran supports the powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah financially and militarily.

The Shia Muslim movement, a Hamas ally, has traded regular cross-border fire with Israel since the start of the Gaza war in early October.

Bagheri, Iran's former top nuclear negotiator, said discussions with Western powers about Tehran's atomic activities were ongoing.

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Western governments fear Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon - a claim Tehran has always denied.

"We advise them not to miss the opportunity any further and compensate for the actions that they must have carried out but didn't," Bagheri said, as a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog opened in Vienna.

Diplomats told AFP that Britain, France and Germany will seek to censure Tehran over its lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the organisation's board meeting.

At the last board meeting in March, European powers shelved their plans to confront Iran because of a lack of support from Washington.

Bagheri is due to travel from Lebanon to Syria on Tuesday.


Iranian adviser killed in Israeli strike in Syria

Iranian media said an adviser was killed in an early Monday Israeli strike on Syria's northern city of Aleppo, which a war monitor said killed 16 members of pro-Iran groups.

"During last night's attack by the Zionist regime on Aleppo, Saeed Abyar, one of the IRGC advisers in Syria, was martyred," said Iran's Tasnim news agency, referring to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Earlier the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: "The death toll of the Israeli strike on a factory in Hayyan in western Aleppo province has risen to 16 pro-Iran group members, including Syrian and foreign fighters."

The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, initially reported 12 dead.

It said pro-Iran groups comprising local and foreign fighters have considerable influence in government-controlled Hayyan.

A Syrian defence ministry statement said that "after midnight... the Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the southeast of Aleppo, targeting some positions" near the city. It reported "martyrs" and "some material damage".

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-enemy Iran to expand its presence there.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on its northern neighbour since the outbreak of Syria's civil war, mainly targeting army positions and Iran-backed fighters, including from Hezbollah.

The strikes have increased since the start of the Gaza war.