Daily Beast:

Erin Banco National Security Reporter and Asawin Suebsaeng White House Reporter

The Trump administration keeps sending conflicting and contradictory messages to Iran about its terms for new negotiations, multiple U.S and European officials tell The Daily Beast. And the ensuing chaos has vexed the president, complicated diplomatic efforts for American allies abroad, and utterly baffled policymakers at home.

For several months, the United States has been actively attempting to pass messages, via allies, to the Iranians in an effort to move closer to beginning formal diplomatic talks with Tehran.

However, diverging opinions within the Trump administration are foiling the nascent diplomatic process, according to two current U.S. officials and another source with direct knowledge of the matter. The dissent is straining foreign intermediaries who are working as go-betweens between Washington and Tehran. They say they are fed up with receiving mixed messages from Donald Trump’s team.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But a senior administration official told The Daily Beast, “The Administration is completely aligned in this approach. The President has been clear, he is open to meeting with Iran’s leadership to work out an agreement and give Iran the future it deserves.”

There have been long-standing reports on internal tensions between the president and some of his senior officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, on how hawkishly to approach the Iranian regime. In June, as The Daily Beast reported at the time, Trump had privately urged his cabinet members and top aides to cool it with their tough talk on possible war with Iran, despite the attacks on tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman that the administration had pinned on Tehran.

The latest mixed messages and instructions have included at times wildly differing details on preconditions the U.S. would demand for official sit-downs between the two countries, and varying proposals for the length of time for which the Americans would consider suspending economic sanctions on Iranians, these sources said. 

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