Iran Says Keen On Dialogue; US Said Prepared To Engage
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Iran’s ambassador to the country, Mohammad Irani, stressed his country’s keenness on dialogue and avoiding escalation in the region, pointing out that his country has put forward many proposals as a message of reassurance to the countries of the region, calling on everyone to sit at one table but there has been no response from the other side, reports Al-Rai daily.

“The proposal by Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif to establish a nonaggression agreement between the countries of the region came to build bridges of trust between his country and the countries of the region,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Ramadan festival (Ghabqa) organized by the embassy at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. He rejected all accusations against his country that Tehran wants to destabilize the security of the countries of the region and interfere in their internal affairs.

In response to a question about President Donald Trump’s recent statements in which he described Iran as weak, he pointed out that the United States was prepared to negotiate with Iran saying if Tehran wanted to, but Iran stressed that it rejects dialogue with the United States because it has gone back on its promises once by withdrawing from the nuclear agreement.

The United States is prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions about its nuclear program but needs to see the country behaving like “a normal nation”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. Iran responded by calling the offer “word-play”, and asked for action instead.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Saturday that Iran may be willing to hold talks if Washington showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks. Pompeo, in an apparent softening of his previous stance, said when asked about Rouhani’s remarks: “We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no pre-conditions, we are ready to sit down.”

However, he said Washington would continue to work to “reverse the malign activity” of Iran in the Middle East, citing Tehran’s support to Hezbollah and to the Syrian government. Pompeo said Trump had been saying for a long time that he was willing to talk to Iran. “We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Responding to the US offer, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not pay attention to word-play and expression of hidden agenda in new forms. What matters is the change of US general approach and actual behaviour towards the Iranian nation.” Mousavi was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency “Pompeo’s emphasis on the continuation of maximum pressure on Iran is the same old wrong policy that needs reform.” Trump said last Monday he was hopeful Iran would come to the negotiating table. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would not negotiate with Washington, even after Rouhani had previously signalled talks might be possible if sanctions were lifted.

Cassis voiced concern at Iranian people suffering from the impact of sanctions and said that neutral Switzerland wanted to provide humanitarian aid, “especially pharmaceutical products and foodstuffs.” He said Iran needed to make payments for this, and that was possible only if the United States allowed banks to transfer payments. Cassis said he was confident the United States would come up with the “best possible solution” to that problem in a short time. Iran has stayed within the main restrictions of its 2015 nuclear deal, a quarterly report by the UN atomic watchdog indicated on Friday, at a time when Tehran is threatening to break the rules in future in response to new US sanctions.

Pompeo declined on Sunday to comment on the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said Washington was tracking IAEA findings closely but added: “We also have our own independent understanding of what is taking place there. “And the world should be mindful that we are watching closely how Iran is complying with the requirements that were set out in the JCPOA, not only the heavy water issue, but the amount of high-enriched uranium which they are accumulating,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which the Trump administration has quit. “We are watching closely as they put centrifuges into work and whether they are actually beginning to spin those centrifuges and load those centrifuges,” Pompeo said. Last year, Pompeo outlined 12 ways Iran must change — including stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program — before the United States lifts sanctions

Oil prices

US military vessels in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles, a top military aide to Khamenei said on Sunday, warning any clash between the two countries would push oil prices above $100 a barrel. Iran and the United States have been drawn into starker confrontation in the past month, a year after Washington pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting international sanctions.

Washington re-imposed sanctions last year and ratcheted them up in May, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil. In recent weeks it has also hinted at military confrontation, saying it was sending extra forces to the Middle East to respond to an Iranian threat. Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military aide to Khamenei, said: “The Americans are fully aware that their military forces (in the region) are within the Iran’s missile range and all US and foreigners’ navy in the Arabian Gulf are within the range of land-tosea missiles of the Revolutionary Guards.” “The first bullet fired in the Gulf will push oil prices above $100. This would be unbearable to America, Europe and the US allies like Japan and South Korea,” Rahim Safavi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

03 Jun, 2019 365
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