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Pompeo Rejects Rouhani’s Call for Dialogue in Exchange for Lifting Sanctions

Pompeo Rejects Rouhani’s Call for Dialogue in Exchange for Lifting Sanctions

Monday, 15 July, 2019 - 09:15
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected Sunday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s proposal that Tehran would be ready to talk to the United States if it lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Pompeo dismissed the idea as “the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama,” referring to the former US secretary of state and president.

“President 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,” he said.

Earlier, Rouhani stated: “We have always believed in talks ... if they 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.”

The US quit the accord with world powers in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

President Donald Trump’s administration says it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues.

But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the US withdrew from the pact.

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

Calling for dialogue among all to resume, France, Britain and Germany - parties to the 2015 pact - said on Sunday they were preoccupied by the escalation of tensions in the Gulf region and the risk the nuclear deal might fall apart.

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” they said in a joint statement that was released by the French president’s office.

Despite calling for talks with Iranian leaders, Trump said on Wednesday that US sanctions on Iran would soon be increased “substantially”.

Existing US sanctions have targeted Iran’s main foreign revenue stream from crude oil exports, which Trump in May moved to try to eliminate entirely.

In reaction, Tehran said it would scale back its commitments under the deal, under which it had agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from US and other economic sanctions that had crippled its economy.

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