Report: Kerry Began Secret Back-Channel Talks With Iran As Senator

Secretary of State John Kerry secretly began back-channel talks with Iran that lead to an agreement to curb that country’s nuclear program while serving as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to a report published Tuesday in the Boston Globe.

Kerry made a secret trip to Oman in December 2011 aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program, anonymous Kerry aides explained to the Globe, which was coordinated with the Obama administration and the State Department. 

The then-senator met with Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, according to the Globe. There he laid the foundation for further clandestine meetings between the United States and Iran over the past year, including his return to Oman in May for further secret mediation as secretary of state.

“Kerry had a simple message,” an aide with direct knowledge of the meeting told the Globe. “The United States was interested in a quiet dialogue on the nuclear issue [with Iran], one that would be out of the way. There was no trust to start, only issues in need of discussion to see if there was an understanding that could be created.”

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Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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