The visit is taking place as the eighth round of talks on a nuclear deal with Iran is due to begin next week in Vienna.
United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is due to visit Israel this week to hold in-depth discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Biden government official said.
The visit, which is expected to begin on Tuesday, comes as negotiations in Vienna on Iran’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal have shown modest progress but are still far from a breakthrough.
“We will talk about where we can see the status of the Iranian nuclear program and some timetables,” the official told reporters. “It will be a good opportunity to meet face-to-face and talk about the state of the conversation, the timeframe we’re working in, and reiterate that we don’t have much time.”
Sullivan will be accompanied by the Middle East director of the National Security Council, Brett McGurk, and other US officials and will also meet with Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to discuss strengthening US ties with the Palestinians, the official said .
The Biden administration has made a return to the Iran nuclear deal, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, a top priority. Iran agreed to the deal to cut its nuclear program in exchange for lifting the sanctions.
Since the US withdrew, Tehran has increasingly violated restrictions and stated that it is no longer bound by the agreement. The Western signatories to the nuclear deal have repeatedly called for urgency about Iran’s nuclear advances.
Last week, a senior US official said that Iran’s breakthrough time to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon was now “really short” and alarming.
Iran has repeatedly denied wanting to develop a nuclear weapon.
An eighth round of talks between Iran and the other signatories to the agreement, in which the US is indirectly participating, is due to resume next week.
Reports suggest that the sides may be on the verge of drafting a new joint text, incorporating elements from a text presented at the end of the sixth round of negotiations in June and new proposals from the government of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
An agreement on the draft should serve as the basis for further negotiations.
Israel still firmly rejects the agreement. In early December, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on world leaders to pursue a “strong line” with Iran in negotiations.