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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Rome. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will travel to Washington next week for talks with senior Biden administration officials on Iran, Lapid’s office said.

  • Lapid is expected to meet with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Vice President Kamala Harris between Oct. 12-14.

Why it matters: Israel is pressing the Biden administration to develop a “Plan B” in case nuclear talks with Iran fail.

  • State of play: Talks aimed at a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal have been frozen since hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected as Iran's president in June, and optimism about a potential deal has been waning in Washington and in European capitals.
  • Israeli officials say Lapid wants to pass on Israel’s messages about Iran at the highest level before the Vienna talks resume.

Driving the news: U.S. and Israeli officials led by Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, met on Tuesday at the White House for strategic talks on Iran's nuclear program, regional activities and deployment of attack drones.

  • Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed the nuclear talks on Wednesday in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
  • Shortly before the meeting, Lavrov had spoken to Blinken about the effort to resume talks with Iran, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
  • After the meeting, Amir-Abdollahian said talks would resume "soon."

What they're saying: After the U.S.-Israel meeting, the White House emphasized that the administration believes diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but "if diplomacy fails, the United States is prepared to turn to other options."

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials have been making the case to their U.S. counterparts that the Biden administration should prepare a new package of sanctions on Iran while also making clear that the U.S. has a credible military threat, an Israeli official told me.

  • “We told the Americans that without those two things, the Iranians won’t have any incentive to go back to the 2015 nuclear deal," the official said.

What’s next: The Israeli government expects the nuclear talks in Vienna to resume in a few weeks.

Go deeper

Biden meeting with key House Democrats

President Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is hosting two separate in-person meetings with moderate and progressive House members at the White House on Tuesday as infrastructure negotiations continue, White House officials told Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest in the president’s efforts to appease the more volatile parts of his party’s coalition as Democrats wrangle over how to cut his social spending proposal down from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

4 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.