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Iran's Rouhani says open to talks with US

Jon Shelton
June 1, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani has suggested that Iran is not opposed to negotiations with Washington, but will not be pressured into them. Tensions have escalated significantly over the past several weeks.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani
Image: Getty Images/AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday suggested that Tehran would be open to negotiations with the United States if Washington showed respect and abided by international rules. But he said Tehran would not allow Washington to force it to the table.

Rouhani told Fars news agency, "We are for the logic and talks if [the other side] sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows international regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate."  

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated significantly over the past month, with the US accusing Iran of continued malign activity and unspecified threats against the US and its allies. Washington has also increased its military presence in the region.

Read more: What is the Iran nuclear deal?

'We aren't looking for regime change'

On Monday, US President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018, said, "It [Iran] has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership … We aren't looking for regime change — I just want to make that clear."

The recent escalation of tensions has fueled speculation that foreign policy hawks in the Trump administration, such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, may be pushing the president toward the idea of regime change in Tehran.

Washington has increasingly burdened Iran with ever more sanctions in an effort to force Tehran to accept harsher restraints to its nuclear program. Trump has consistently called the JCPOA a terrible deal as it does not do enough to curtail Iranian nuclear development.

Iran says it will not be bullied

The latest round of sanctions are aimed at Iran's oil sector, penalizing countries that import oil from the Islamic republic. For its part Tehran has been critical of Washington's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and vociferously rejected US sanctions as a stick designed to force Iran back to the negotiating table.

Though Rouhani has previously voiced openness to talks, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni has said Iran will not negotiate.

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