Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with US officials and members of Congress as part of a visit to Washington focused on Iran and its nuclear program.
Lapid’s office released a statement after his meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying, “the foreign minister shared with the national security advisor Israel’s concerns about Iran’s race toward nuclear capabilities, as well as that Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold state.” The statement went on to stress that “Lapid also discussed with the national security advisor the need for an alternative plan to the nuclear agreement.”
In a separate readout, the spokesperson for the Biden administration’s National Security Council said “the officials also shared their perspectives on the threat posed by Iran. Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. The officials agreed that the United States and Israel will continue to consult closely on Iran and other critical matters impacting the security and stability of the region.”
Lapid also met with US Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other lawmakers. Harris noted Washington’s and Israel’s “shared concern” over Iran during her meeting with Lapid as well as the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in dignity. Lapid revealed that the focus of his visit was the Iranian nuclear program and the need for bipartisan support for Israel.
While in the United States, Lapid is also meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and will participate in a special trilateral meeting with Blinken and the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on Wednesday.
The three parties will launch two new working groups, a senior State Department official said, as Washington hopes to expand the agreements between Israel and its neighbors known as the Abraham accords.
One working group will focus on religious coexistence and the other on water and energy issues, said the official, who briefed reporters ahead of the meeting on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported.
This visit comes as Israeli officials have become increasingly vocal in their impatience with the stalemate in nuclear negotiations with Iran. They have urged the Biden administration to prepare another package of sanctions as well as undertake military drills in the Middle East as a show of force to pressure Iran to return to the table. Jerusalem has also repeatedly emphasized the need to formulate a Plan B on Iran, should the nuclear negotiations with Tehran fail to salvage the nuclear deal from 2015.