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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Iranian foreign minister: No meeting planned with US at UN General Assembly 

Asked if Iranian officials would meet Mike Pompeo, Zarif said his country's position was clear

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting with North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in the capital Tehran. AFP
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting with North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in the capital Tehran. AFP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday there was no meeting planned with US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the United Nations General Assembly.

The semi-official news agency Tasnim reported that when asked about the likelihood of a meeting with US officials, including Mr Pompeo, at the General Assembly in September, Mr Zarif said: "No, no such meeting is planned. We have repeatedly announced our position."

Earlier this week, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in line with President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a 2015 agreement over Iran's nuclear programme. Mr Trump has offered talks on a "more comprehensive deal" but Iran has refused to negotiate under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leant on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.

"On Trump's recent proposal, our official stance was announced by the president and by us. Americans are not honest and their addiction to sanctions does not allow any negotiation to take place," Mr Zarif said.

It was Iran's most explicit rejection of talks to date, after much speculation that economic pressure would force its leaders back to the table with Washington or at least to engage in backroom discussions in New York.

Mr Zarif met repeatedly with then US secretary of state John Kerry during the negotiation and implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement but those relatively warm ties were abruptly ended when the Trump administration came to power.

Mr Rouhani said last week that Iran "always welcomed negotiations" but that Washington would first have to demonstrate it can be trusted.

"If you're an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife," he said in an interview on state television.

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