CIA chief visits Israel amid Iran tensions

US Central Intelligence Agency chief William Burns was due in Israel Tuesday for talks on common foe Iran, as rising tensions overshadow talks on restoring a landmark nuclear deal.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave no details of the agenda for the CIA chief’s talks in Israel.

But the Walla News website said he would discuss Iran’s nuclear programme and its activities in the region with both Bennett and his Israeli counterpart David Barnea.

Walla News said Burns would also travel to Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and intelligence chief Majed Faraj.

The visit comes amid what analysts have called a “shadow war”, that has seen a spate of attacks on vessels linked to Iran and Israel.

Last month, the MT Mercer Street, an oil products tanker operated by Israeli-controlled Zodiac maritime, was struck by a drone off the Omani coast, killing two crew members — a Briton and a Romanian.

G7 foreign ministers on Friday pointed the finger of blame for the attack at Iran, as the US military released the findings of an investigation alleging the drones were made in the Islamic republic.

Iran dismissed the allegations.

A career diplomat, Burns played a key role in the US rapprochement with Iran that led to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

With strong support from Israel, then president Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018 and reimposed punishing sanctions on Iran.

But his successor Joe Biden’s administration has held multiple rounds of indirect talks with Iran on returning to the deal.

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Iranian Kurd party accuses Tehran of killing official in Iraq

Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Aug 7, 2021

Iran’s oldest Kurdish separatist party, now based in neighbouring Iraq, on Saturday accused Tehran of murdering one of its leaders.

Mussa Babakhani, a member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), was “assassinated by a terrorist affiliated” with Iran, a statement from the party said.

Tehran refers to the KDPI, which is based in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, as a “terrorist” group.

Babakhani was “kidnapped Thursday by two terrorists and found dead an … read more

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Jeanice Culton