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Blinken Meets Israel's New Foreign Minister Amid Divisions on Iran, Palestine


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Rome on June 27.

U.S .Secretary of State Antony Blinken held his first meeting with Israel's new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid amid disagreements between the two countries over Iran and Palestine.

President Joe Biden's administration is seeking to revive the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran in which Tehran significantly scaled back nuclear work in return for sanctions relief.

In remarks to reporters on June 27 before their meeting, Lapid said Israel had some "serious reservations" about the Iran deal that is being discussed in Vienna.

Blinken said the U.S. still had "serious differences" with Iran about the aspects of a deal, but warned that if too much time passes it will remain moribund.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recently ousted, had backed Trump's move.

The United States and Israel are also at odds over settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank that has led to tension with Palestinians.

Blinken said the United States supports Israel's normalization accords, but they cannot be a substitute for engaging in issues between Israelis and Palestinians.

Blinken will be in Italy as part of a three-nation tour of Europe.

On June 28 he will meet with meet Pope Francis, the pontiff's first meeting with a high-ranking Biden administration official.

Blinken will also take part in meetings hosted by Italy of the Group of 20 major economies and of the coalition to defeat the Islamic State extremist group.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP and The Times of Israel
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