USA still ready to talk to Iran

Blanche Robertson
September 22, 2018

"The reality that United Nations member states ignore at their peril is that Iran has continued to develop and test ballistic missiles", US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said during an event at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. "We want more nations to join us in confronting the array of Iran's malign activity".

The meetings come as Macron and other European leaders try to salvage a landmark 2015 accord to curb Tehran's nuclear programme, which Trump pulled the USA out of last May.

Trump hasn't closed the door on a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but the official - who requested anonymity to discuss strategy ahead of the talks next week - stressed that the president isn't actively seeking an audience with Rouhani, either. French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with Rouhani in NY and urge the Iranian leader to continue to abide by the requirements of the 2015 nuclear agreement that the other signatories, including France, believe should remain in effect.

The US accuses Iran of destabilising the Middle East by pursuing missile development and its intervention in conflicts in neighbouring countries including Syria and Yemen.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month formed an organization dedicated to coordinating and implementing US policy toward Iran.

However, he dismissed expanding negotiations to other issues beyond Iran's nuclear program.

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US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have "made clear that we are ready to negotiate and to have those discussions", Brian Hook said at Washington think tank the Hudson Institute on Wednesday.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has ruled out talks with the United States, for now. "That's their position, we respect that".

The US sanctions have hit Iran's economy hard since foreign companies can no longer operate in the country without running the risk of being hit by US penalties.

The US re-imposed sweeping sanctions against Iran last month, and a new round of even harsher sanctions is set to go into effect November 5 targeting Iran's vital oil sector.

Trump will use the gathering in NY to try to convince allies that European companies are fleeing Iran after the United States pulled out of the agreement, a senior administration official said.

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