Rouhani signals openness to talks if ‘cruel’ US sanctions lifted

Rouhani signals openness to talks if ‘cruel’ US sanctions lifted

Iranian president says the ‘road is not closed’ and urges Washington to return to negotiation table over nuclear deal

President Hassan Rouhani (left) at a meeting of the Iranian cabinet, May 29, 2019. (Iran President official website)
President Hassan Rouhani (left) at a meeting of the Iranian cabinet, May 29, 2019. (Iran President official website)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday the “road is not closed” if the US wants negotiations with Iran and returns to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Rouhani spoke during a Cabinet meeting and did not explicitly name the United States but referred to Washington by saying: “The road is not closed for them, whenever they put aside their cruel sanctions and return to the negotiation table that they left.”

Rouhani’s website also quoted him as saying that if the US chooses “another way and returns to justice and law, the Iranian nation will keep the road open to you.”

The US last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.

“The yardstick is not what they say, but rather what they do,” Rouhani said on his official website. “Whenever they stop hostility towards the Iranian nation, lift their unjust sanctions, live up to their commitments, and come back to the negotiation table that the left, the door is open.”

US President Donald Trump (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 27, 2019. (Kiyoshi Ota / POOL / AFP)

On Monday US President Donald Trump held out the possibility of negotiations with Iran as he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is reportedly weighing a trip to Tehran.

“I do believe that Iran would like to talk, and if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also,” Trump said.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA said Russia’s deputy foreign minister is visiting Tehran to discuss the increasingly unraveling 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Sergey Ryabkov met his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araghchi, on Wednesday and discussed the deal as well as bilateral ties, regional and international issues.

The visit comes as tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf region amid a crisis between Washington and Iran.

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over the escalation. Other countries including Iraq and Switzerland have been suggested as mediators in the crisis. Iran says it will wait and monitor the developments in the region before deciding about the offers.

Rouhani also turned his sights on Israel, posting in English on his official website in advance of Quds Day, a protest day established by Iran on the last Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan. Iran calls on Muslims to use the day to protest against the existence of Israel and especially its presence in Jerusalem, known in Arabic as Al-Quds.

“Palestine and Quds are code name for resistance of all Muslims, and Israel is the code name of oppressors in the world who want to oppress Muslims,” Rouhani said.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said that their goal is the “annihilation” of Israel.

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