Friday, October 17, 2014

State Department On Iran Nuke Negotiations: 'We Know Each Other Well Enough to Make Jokes'

    Some American and Iranian diplomats have been spending so much time together lately that they're beginning to crack jokes with one another. Even though the subject matter of the talks, Iran's nuclear ambitions, is quite serious, a senior state department official shared a lighter moment with reporters who had gathered for a background briefing at the P5+1 talks in Vienna, Austria:
I just told Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi that that I was coming down to do a backgrounder, and I said, you know, “You’ll know what I’m going to say.” And his suggestion was that I simply hand you the transcript from the last one, and that would probably do the trick. (Laughter.) So we thought that was pretty funny. Obviously, you don’t think that’s so funny, but we all thought it was pretty funny.
    Further into the briefing, the official expanded on the state of the relationship that has developed between the Iranian and American negotiators:
In terms of mood, in a professional way, we all know each other pretty well now. You can tell when the [Iranian] Deputy Foreign Minister jokes. He reads the transcripts of these backgrounders, and when he can joke, “Why don’t you just hand over the last one? You’re going to say the same thing,” it’s reached a level of we know each other well enough to make jokes.
    The current round of talks has a November 24th deadline to reach a complete agreement. The official said there has been progress, but a lot of work remains. The talks have been extended in the past when an agreement could not be reached, but the official said to keep the pressure on, an extension has not been discussed this time around.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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