Merkel: Return to Iran deal only way to defuse tensions
Putin says Iran nuclear deal has no alternative
Iran will never hold one-on-one talks with the United States but Washington could engage in multilateral discussions if it returns to a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday.
"There will be no talks with the US at any level," Ayatollah Khamenei said in remarks apparently meant to end all speculation about a possible US-Iran meeting between the two countries' presidents at the UN later this month.
US President Donald Trump has said he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Ayatollah Khamenei said this is the position of Iran’s entire leadership and that "all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe" this.
He said entering talks with the US under the current circumstances would be tantamount to surrendering to Washington's undue pressure campaign. "Negotiating would mean Washington imposing its demands on Tehran. It would also be a manifestation of the victory of America’s maximum pressure campaign,” the Leader noted.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the US wants to prove its "maximum pressure policy" against Iran is successful.
"In return, we have to prove that the policy is not worth a penny for the Iranian nation," he said. “That is why Iranian officials — including the president, the foreign minister and others — have unanimously voiced their objection to any talks with the US — be it in a bilateral or a multilateral setting,” the Leader stated.
Ayatollah Khamenei said talks with Iran would be possible only if the US returns to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the JCPOA that it abandoned last year and reimposed sanctions in the Islamic Republic.
“If the US retracts its words, repents and returns to the nuclear accord that it has violated, it can then take part in sessions of other signatories to the deal and hold talks with Iran… Otherwise, no talks at any level will be held between Iranian and American authorities, neither in New York nor elsewhere."
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to America’s repeated offers of talk and the contradictory comments by its officials on whether any such negotiations should be held with preconditions.
“Sometimes, they speak of negotiations without preconditions. At other times, they set 12 conditions for the talks. Statements as such are either an outcome of their chaotic policy or a ploy aimed at confusing the opposite side,” the Leader said.
“The Islamic Republic will, of course, not be confused as our path is clear and we know what we are doing,” he added.
The Leader said, “I had already said that America’s objective of [pursuing] talks is to impose [its demands], but they have become so insolent that they even speak about this openly.”
“The US regime is after making its domestic rivals and the Europeans accept this as a definitive policy that maximum pressure is the only way to confront Iran,” added Ayatollah Khamenei. “Their objective in [offering to hold] talks is to prove to everyone that the policy of maximum pressure has yielded results, and that Iranian authorities were forced to come to the negotiating table despite what they said.”
He also noted that the US maximum pressure strategy consists of “a range of sanctions, threats and rants,” which are meant to bring Iran to the negotiating table.
The strategy has, however, failed to bring Iran to its knees, said Ayatollah Khamenei.
Trump has stepped up sanctions against Iran since last year when he withdrew from the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program.
In retaliation for the US “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has gradually scaled backed its commitments to the pact and plans to further breach it if the European parties fail to keep their promises to shield Iran’s economy from US penalties.
Only way to ease tensions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called for a return to the JCPOA as the only way to defuse tensions in the Middle East.
“We believe that the deal… is a building block we need to get back to,” Merkel said during a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah.
“But there is also a long list of other burdens coming from Iran like the ballistic missiles program and its engagement in Syria,” she said. “In recent days tensions in the region rose and Germany will always be in favor of de-escalation and long-term solutions are only possible through a political process.”
Deal still viable
Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated support for the JCPOA, saying the multilateral accord is still viable despite the US’s withdrawal.
Putin made the remarks after talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Monday.
He said that his bilateral meeting with the Iranian president on the sidelines of a tripartite summit in Ankara had focused on efforts to save the nuclear deal.
“We think that the plan of action, despite the United States’ withdrawal from it, is still viable. Other participants in the deal share this point of view,” Putin said. “There is no reasonable alternative to this agreement.”
He further said that “Russia is doing its utmost to ensure full implementation of the JCPOA,” and that Moscow was maintaining active contacts with the remaining signatories to the deal, and with Washington.
“Naturally, we maintain political dialog with Iran at all levels,” he said.
AP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.