Ex-Clinton aide secretly met with Iranian officials in summer 2012

Vice President Biden’s national security adviser met with Iranian officials as far back as the summer of 2012, a new report reveals.

Jake Sullivan secretly traveled to Oman in July 2012 to meet with Iranian officials, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. This would mark one of the earliest in-person meetings the U.S. held with Iran in recent years. 

Sullivan joined the State Department in 2009 and served under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as deputy chief of staff for policy.

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Although he moved to the White House in February, he continued to partake in backchannel discussions with Iran.

The AP reported just after the interim deal with Iran was reached last month that Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns secretly met with Iranian officials at least five times this year.  

Sullivan’s July 2012 encounter happened in the midst of one of Clinton’s overseas trips. He vanished during their stay in Paris, the AP reports, and rejoined Clinton a few days later in Mongolia. In between, he flew to Oman for the meeting. 

If Clinton runs for president in 2016, Sullivan would likely be her pick for White House national security adviser, AP notes. He is still loyal to Clinton.

“He's essentially a once-in-a-generation talent," Clinton aide Philippe Reines told the AP. Reines and Sullivan were colleagues at the State Department.

As Clinton’s tenure ended, Sullivan had actually considered a run for Congress in Minnesota, the AP reports, but White House officials convinced him to join their executive team.

He’s credited, along with Burns, with paving the way for Iran and the U.S. to rekindle their relationship and find compromise over Iran’s nuclear program.