Hassan Rouhani rules out bilateral talks with US


TEHERAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has excluded the possibility of bilateral negotiations with the United States, having, however, noted that talks could resume on the following condition: “If the United States lifts all sanctions, they can, as before, enter into a dialogue within the P5+1 group”, he said.

As of today, he continued, Tehran’s answer to talks with Washington will always be “no”:”No decision has ever been taken to hold talks with the US and there has been a lot of offers for talks but our answer will always be negative”, Rouhani said.

The Iranian president appeared to reiterate his earlier comments made following the G7 summit in France’s Biarritz last month, when he said that the US must first lift sanctions against Iran, otherwise a meeting between the two presidents would be a mere photo op.

Last month, his American counterpart, Donald Trump, said that he was open to meeting Rouhani under the right circumstances to discus their standoff over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

“At a given point in time, there will have to be a meeting between the American and Iranian president”, Trump said, calling Rouhani a “great negotiator”, in the wake of the Group of Seven summit.

President Rouhani has previoulsy slammed the United States over its claims that it wanted to have talks without any preconditions, while at the same time sanctioning high-ranking Iranian officials, such as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

In late July, US Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed to WFTV 9 that President Trump sought unconditional talks with Iran, yet wanted to change Tehran’s “behaviour”.

Boiling Tensions

US-Iran relations have been tense since Washington unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran in May 2018 and reinstated all sanctions against the Islamic Republic with a stated goal of bringing its oil exports to zero.

In May 2019, Iran, for its part, announced a decision to partially scale back its voluntary obligations under the nuclear deal and gave the remaining signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and the European Union – 60 days to salvage the agreement by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran.