(JNS.org) Following a New York Times report last month that the U.S. had agreed to direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program for the time, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday that a senior advisor to President Barack Obama has already been leading secret talks with Iran for several months.
The Israeli newspaper said Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer who was born in the Iranian city of Shiraz, initiated the talks with the Islamic Republic. The White House denied that report, as did Obama during the Oct. 22 presidential debate on foreign policy.
In the ongoing U.S.-Iran talks, which are taking place in Bahrain, Jarrett has reportedly been communicating with representatives of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Jarrett, a longtime friend of First Lady Michelle Obama, is the assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs. Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine, wrote that “by putting someone with no background on security issues in charge of [negotiations with Iran], Obama may be signaling that the president’s goal here is not an Iranian surrender of nuclear capability, but rather a political compromise that may not eliminate the threat of an Islamist bomb sometime down the road.”