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Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the request for a "goodwill gesture." Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry via Getty

The U.S. will not offer Iran concessions just to get nuclear talks restarted, a senior U.S. official told reporters, rejecting an Iranian demand for "a goodwill gesture," such as the release of $10 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

Why it matters: Indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran over a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal have been suspended since the Iranian elections in June. There is no set date for talks to resume, but the Iranians have signaled it could happen in early November.

Driving the news: Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in an interview on Iranian television on Saturday that the U.S. had tried to contact Iran through different channels during the UN General Assembly.

  • He said he told the mediators that if the U.S. is serious about restarting nuclear talks, it should make a "goodwill gesture" like releasing the funds.
  • Briefing reporters before a U.S.-Israel working group on Iran reconvenes on Tuesday, chaired by the countries' national security advisers, the senior official said the administration was "committed to the diplomatic track" but willing to pursue "other avenues" if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
  • It will be the first in-person meeting of the working group since President Biden assumed office. A senior U.S. official said the Biden administration and the new Israeli government hold similar assessments of the status of Iran's nuclear program, but there are differences over how to respond.

Go deeper

Oct 13, 2021 - World

Iraq elections boost nationalist al-Sadr at expense of pro-Iran bloc

Al-Sadr supporters celebrate in Baghdad. Photo: Ayman Yaqoob/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Abu Dhabi — Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged from Sunday's parliamentary elections as the leading figure in Iraqi politics.

Why it matters: Al-Sadr has positioned himself as a bulwark against foreign interference in Iraq. He has a history of violent opposition to U.S. forces in the country but has more recently proved adept at presenting himself to regional and international partners as a more palatable alternative to pro-Iranian rivals.

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Taliban press Biden to release frozen Afghan assets as economy shrivels

Afghans wait outside a bank in hopes of withdrawing cash, watched by a Taliban fighter. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty

With the Afghan government and economy starved of cash, the Taliban are pressing their claim to the roughly $8 billion in Afghan foreign reserves that have been frozen by the U.S.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is barreling into a humanitarian crisis, and donor countries and international institutions have cut off the aid that accounted for some 75% of the previous government’s budget.

29 mins 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.