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Iran 'ready' to negotiate if US lifts sanctions

China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-16 09:48

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes a speech during his visit in Khorasan, Iran, on Sunday. GETTY IMAGES

EU foreign ministers met on Monday, calling for Teheran to stick to nuke deal

DUBAI/PARIS - Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to a 2015 nuclear accord it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday.

"We have always believed in talks... if they (the US) lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere," Rouhani said.

In an interview with The Washington Post newspaper, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed Rouhani's idea as "the same offer that he offered to John Kerry and Barack Obama", referring to the former US secretary of state and president, respectively.

" (US) President (Donald) Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal), which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster," Pompeo said.

Confrontations between Washington and Teheran have escalated, culminating in an aborted plan for US airstrikes on Iran last month after Teheran downed a US drone. Trump called off the retaliatory US airstrike at the last minute.

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss Iran's nuclear issue, looking to de-escalate tension and calling on Iran to stick to the deal.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said on Monday that "it is still not too late, but Iran really has to stick to its obligations".

At their regular monthly meeting, the EU foreign ministers also look to drum up further support for its barter-type system to trade with Teheran and get around possible US sanctions.

Meanwhile, there have been signs in the past week that the US may be signaling greater openness to diplomacy, Reuters said.

US officials said on Thursday that Washington had decided for now not to sanction Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif despite US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's June 24 statement he would be blacklisted that week.

On Sunday, US officials said they had given Zarif a US visa to attend a UN meeting this week. Iran's mission to the United Nations said he had arrived in New York.

Pompeo told The Washington Post he had granted the visa but restricted Zarif's movements while in New York, allowing him only to travel between UN headquarters and the Iranian mission six blocks away, and to the residence of Iran's UN ambassador.

US-Iranian tensions have worsened since Trump decided last year to abandon the 2015 nuclear agreement under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.

The US has also sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East in recent weeks.

Iran recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in its 2015 nuclear deal, saying these moves can be reversed if the other parties to the agreement come up with enough economic incentives to effectively offset the US sanctions.


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