Thursday, 05 December, 2019


Iranian president says talks possible only if Washington shows 'respect'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is ready for unconditional discussions with Iran. — AP  File US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is ready for unconditional discussions with Iran. — AP File
Bennie Garza | 03 June, 2019, 06:01

We are fully aware, both parties are fully aware, of this tension.

Iran's foreign minister dismissed Trump's invitation for Iranian officials to contact him about possible talks.

Until now, Iranian officials have dismissed the idea of talks without first removing sanctions reimposed on Iran when the United States pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal a year ago.

The US has deployed additional forces to the Middle East and sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the region after picking up intelligence that Iran or its aligned-fighters might attack US troops.

US President Donald Trump, he said, "is imposing pressure".

"We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation", he told a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis. It does not work in dealing with Iran", he said, insisting that "threats against Iran never work.

Zarif added, "Talking is the continuation of the process of pressure. this may work in a real estate market".

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated significantly over the past month, with the USA accusing Iran of continued malign activity and unspecified threats against the United States and its allies.

"We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions", Pompeo said in Switzerland, which in the absence of US-Iranian diplomatic ties represents Washington's interests in the Islamic republic.

Iran's foreign minister says Tehran needs "no mediator" for negotiating with the USA, but the prerequisite for a dialogue is for Washington to abide by the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Mr Cassis, whose country has been an intermediary between the two before, made no secret of his nervousness about the current situation.

Despite the USA protests against Tehran's nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, says that Iran is continuing to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration argues that the 2015 deal agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama is not strong enough, and that Iran can be pressed by new sanctions into signing a tougher deal.

Pompeo thanked Switzerland, which serves as the "protecting power" for the United States in Iran, for looking after Americans detained there. "I think that's very smart of them and I think there's a possibility for that to happen also".

On Friday, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog reported that Iran may be in violation of limits on the number of advanced centrifuges it can use.

Pompeo was in Switzerland on the second leg after Germany of a four-nation tour of Europe in which he is both trying to calm nerves and stressing that the U.S. will defend itself and not relent in raising pressure on Iran with economic sanctions.

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