William Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, will join other high-ranking officials from world’s major powers at a meeting this Saturday with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Burns, the third-highest ranking US diplomat, will for the first time attend Group 5+1 talks with the Iranian envoy in Switzerland aimed at persuading Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities.
Secretary Burns’ meeting with Mr. Jalili is a clear break with past Bush administration policy on Iran. A State Department official has told AP that Burns is going to the Saturday meeting to demonstrate US commitment to a negotiated deal.
Burns is a career diplomat who has previously served as US ambassador to Russia. He holds a doctorate degree in international relations from Oxford.
Last Wednesday, during a testimony to House Foreign Affairs Committee, he said Iran’s behavior and policies pose wide-ranging challenges to US interests and for international community.