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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran rejects prospect of talks with Trump at UN and says country ready to resist 'militarily'

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Sept 22, IRNA -- Iran's top diplomats said they will not enter into negotiations until the US stops its campaign of "maximum pressure" on Tehran, making bilateral talks between leaders attending the meeting of United Nations General Assembly this week highly unlikely.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told The Independent that "maximum pressure" from the United States has produced "maximum resistance" from Iran, and that Tehran will continue to resist.

Speaking at the Iranian mission to the UN in New York, he said "to get real negotiations started, this economic war has to end," in reference to the US sanctions that have hurt Iran's economy and reduced its oil sales.

"And to end this economic war, we first need a ceasefire in order to do real negotiations and find sustainable solutions," Araghchi added.

"Not only us, but no country will negotiate under pressure," he added.

Asked what Tehran would do if the maximum pressure from Washington turns into military pressure, Araghchi said: "Then we will resist militarily."

Tehran has passed on messages to the White House that they are not interested in starting a war but if they are attacked, the response will not be limited.

Messages are sent through Swiss diplomats, who have been intermediaries between Tehran and Washington since the two broke ties after the 1979 revolution.

US President Donald Trump has long pursued a meeting with Iranian leaders in the same style as his famous meetings with the North Korean leader, leading to speculation over whether the UNGA meeting would have provided a forum for the two leaders to meet.

Tehran has rejected participating in a bilateral meeting without any "substance".

The political cost of such a meeting, without any concessions from Washington, would be too high for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Even the foreign minister, JMohammad avad Zarif, who was recently invited to meet President Trump at the White House by Republican Senator Rand Paul, did not take the risk of taking up the offer.

Araghchi suggested, however, that Rouhani would be willing to meet with Trump in a multilateral setting if the US returned to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

"If Trump returns to the JCPOA, we will again negotiate with the United States in the format of a P5+1 meeting", he said.

Tensions have been high since President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and gradually re-imposed sanctions on all major industries in Iran, including oil and petrochemicals exports which are a major source of income for the oil-rich state.

Iran has stayed in the deal with the other signatories, but has started to gradually reduce compliance in the past few months.

French President Emmanuel Macron has started mediation efforts between Iran and the US, in the hope of reducing tensions and convincing Iran to stay in the nuclear deal.

Araghchi, who was one of the top negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal, explained: "Macron and Rouhani's plan is to have a ceasefire to be able to conduct real extensive negotiations and find a long term solution."

He added: "This is the path and the roadmap that we believe will work."


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