Foreign Policy

Why Talking With Iran Is So Tricky For The US

The U.S. and Iran ceased communication in 1979 after the Iranian revolution. So how do they negotiate when it comes to something like the Iran deal?

Why Talking With Iran Is So Tricky For The US
Getty Images / Mark Wilson

When President Donald Trump said he'd be open to talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, Iran dismissed the idea pretty quickly

It's a setback in terms of tamping down tensions with the nation since Trump's both pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and ratcheted up U.S. sanctions on Iran.

So, without any direct negotiations happening, how do Iran and the U.S. ever get anything done? 

Well, in the case of the Iran deal reached during former President Obama's administration, Oman played a big part in making sure that panned out. The Gulf nation served as a neutral middleman between Iran and the U.S. and was vital for getting the talks started in the first place.

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For other matters, Switzerland is the nation that officially represents U.S. interests in Iran since the U.S. cut off all ties after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Trump's predecessor, Obama, held the most recent high-level talks with Iran when he spoke with Rouhani on the phone in 2013. 

But before that, the last time a sitting U.S. president actually met with an Iranian leader was before the revolution when Jimmy Carter met with the Shah of Iran.