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U.S. prods Iran for talks to ease Gulf tensions; Tehran dismisses sanctions threat

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U.S. prods Iran for talks to ease Gulf tensions; Tehran dismisses sanctions threat

By Parisa Hafezi and Lesley Wroughton

 

2019-06-23T154517Z_3_LYNXNPEF5M0BI_RTROPTP_4_MIDEAST-IRAN-USA-THREAT.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

 

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was not seeking war with Tehran after a senior Iranian military commander warned any conflict in the Gulf region could spread uncontrollably and threaten the lives of U.S. troops.

 

Tensions remain high between longtime foes Iran and the United States after Trump said on Friday that he called off a military strike to retaliate for Iran's downing of an unmanned U.S. drone out of concern it would have been a disproportionate response.

 

"I'm not looking for war," Trump said on NBC's Meet the Press programme.

 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated to reporters on Sunday that Washington wanted talks with Tehran.

 

"We're prepared to negotiate with no preconditions," he said. "They know precisely how to find us. I am confident that at the very moment they're ready to truly engage with us we'll be able to begin these conversations. I'm looking forward to that day."

 

Pompeo also said "significant" sanctions on Iran would be announced on Monday aimed at further choking off resources that Tehran uses to fund its activities in the region.

 

"We are going to deny them the resources they need to do that, thereby keeping American interests and American people safe all around the world," Pompeo said before leaving to travel for talks on Iran with U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Another source of regional tension is the war in Yemen - Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi group killed one person and wounded seven on Sunday in an attack on a civilian airport in Saudi Arabia. A Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition led by the Saudis and the UAE intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from power by the Houthis in late 2014.

 

Trump has indicated that he would also be prepared to seek a deal to bolster Iran's flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions.

 

"I think they want to negotiate. And I think they want to make a deal. And my deal is nuclear. Look, they're not going to have a nuclear weapon," Trump said.

 

Iran played down the impact of any new U.S. sanctions. They were "just propaganda, as all sanctions ... have been imposed and there are no more sanctions left," state-run news agency IRIB quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.

 

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and refers to a fatwa or religious decree issued in the early 2000s by Iran's top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that bans the development or use of nuclear weapons.

 

Last year Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions. Relations in the region have worsened significantly since then.

 

DIPLOMACY

Diplomatic efforts are underway to ease tensions following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf in recent weeks that the United States blames on Iran and the shooting down of the American drone last week. Tehran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks, which no one has claimed responsibility for.

 

Andrew Murrison, Britain's minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said on Sunday that he had "open, frank and constructive" talks with Iranian government representatives in Tehran.

 

"I reiterated the UK's assessment that Iran almost certainly bears responsibility for recent attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman," and called for such activity to stop, Murrison said.

 

Britain, France, Germany and the European Union are signatories to the 2015 deal and Tehran wants the Europeans to shield Iran from the Trump administration's sanctions through a trade mechanism.

 

After the talks with Murrison, Iran said it would not back down from its decision in May to reduce some of its commitments under the pact, state TV quoted Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying.

 

"The European signatories of the deal lack the will to save the deal. Our decision to decrease our commitment to the deal is a national decision and it is irreversible as long as our demands are not met," Araqchi said.

 

Iran has said it would respond firmly to any threat and warned on Sunday of the risks of a military confrontation.

 

"If a conflict breaks out in the region, no country would be able to manage its scope and timing," Major General Gholamali Rashid said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

 

"The American government must act responsibly to protect the lives of American troops by avoiding misconduct in the region."

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the Americans of stoking tensions through what Iran has called the violation of its airspace by the U.S. military drone, Fars reported.

 

Washington said the aircraft was targeted in international air space in "an unprovoked attack".

 

'HUNTING LICENSE'

On a visit to Kuwait, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said that the June 28-29 G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan would provide an opportunity to discuss addressing maritime threats in Gulf waters.

 

"This is a very urgent priority that nations around the world would come together and enhance maritime security ... This is one of the most critical shipping lines and we cannot allow Iran to threaten the free flow of commerce, to threaten lives, to threaten maritime catastrophes," Hook told reporters.

 

A hawk in Trump's administration, national security adviser John Bolton, sought to maintain military pressure on Iran.

 

"Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness. No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East," Bolton said during a visit to Israel.

 

U.S. ally Israel, which Islamic Iran refuses to recognise and has itself long threatened strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, signalled backing for the Trump administration's stance.

 

Meanwhile, Iranian lawmakers chanted "Death to America" during a parliament session on Sunday. The chants, often repeated since the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah, were heard weeks after Trump said in a U.S. television interview: "They (Iranians) haven't screamed 'death to America' lately."

 

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Lesley Wroughton; Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Ahmed Hagagy in Kuwait, and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Keith Weir and Grant McCool; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-06-24
 

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7 hours ago, webfact said:

I think they want to negotiate. And I think they want to make a deal. And my deal is nuclear. Look, they're not going to have a nuclear weapon," Trump said.

 

7 hours ago, webfact said:

We're prepared to negotiate with no preconditions," he said (Pompeo) "They know precisely how to find us. I am confident that at the very moment they're ready to truly engage with us we'll be able to begin these conversations. I'm looking forward to that day."

I can understand that the trump may have forgotten to keep Pompeo up to date on the day’s mayhem, with the unintended collateral damage of him being made out to be a liar.... but really... no preconditions? Your really setting yourself up for a fall, there, mr  Pompeo. 

 

7 hours ago, webfact said:

Pompeo also said "significant" sanctions on Iran would be announced on Monday aimed at further choking off resources that Tehran uses to fund its activities in the region.

Or maybe he just doesn’t know what a precondition is. 

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7 hours ago, webfact said:

"I'm not looking for war," Trump said on NBC's Meet the Press programme.

As a constant and endless liar, this quote makes me very scared....

 

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Posted (edited)

America sucks now domestically and internationally. look at the clowns and low rent types that Trump has surrounded himself with.  could not wait to get back.  will never be great again

Edited by malibukid
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4 hours ago, jany123 said:

 

I can understand that the trump may have forgotten to keep Pompeo up to date on the day’s mayhem, with the unintended collateral damage of him being made out to be a liar.... but really... no preconditions? Your really setting yourself up for a fall, there, mr  Pompeo. 

 

Or maybe he just doesn’t know what a precondition is. 

Hey I don’t think Donald wants to cover (pre conditions)lol

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9 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

Trump has no understanding of how the Iranians think. Bullying them into a deal will not work. Pulling out of the treaty, because Obama negotiated it, was just dumb and dumber. 

 

Well, don't keep everyone waiting - how do Iranians think, then? Do they think differently than other people? Other nations? Are they some sort of hive-mind?

 

Things could get out of hand, even if no side really wants them to - but I think it more likely that, one way or another, there will be negotiations, and an agreement. The theatrics, labels and such could vary.

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8 hours ago, jany123 said:

 

I can understand that the trump may have forgotten to keep Pompeo up to date on the day’s mayhem, with the unintended collateral damage of him being made out to be a liar.... but really... no preconditions? Your really setting yourself up for a fall, there, mr  Pompeo. 

 

Or maybe he just doesn’t know what a precondition is. 

 

Yeah well....no one accuses the Trump administration of being very eloquent, coordinated or consistent.

 

That said, Iran not getting a nuclear weapon is a base line which stems from Iran's own international commitments (NPT, JCPOA). It's in place regardless of Trump's nonsense or co-opting attempts. It's not a precondition in the sense that it's a given. It's already in place.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Pedrogaz said:

What is the point of negotiations. Trump and Pompeo tell lies all the time and they renege on the treaties and agreements that have already been made. Why would they keep to an agreement they make with Iran? The uS is simply not trustworthy. You have to earn trust and respect by doing what you say....it is the action that builds trust. And if you break your word on multiple occasions and tell lots of lies, people have difficulty believing in you or trusting you. It's not rocket science. 

The US want negotiations solely to say that we have tried diplomacy and it doesn't work...therefore in the absence of progress in the talks we need to bomb in flagrant violation of the US treaty which is incorporated into US LAW.

 

The point of negotiations is to avoid a conflagration and a possible war - which nobody other than some extreme hardliners is interested in. The attempt to paint the general USA position as pro-war is misleading. Doubtful that it even holds as a general comment on the Trump administration.

 

Following your "logic", there is no solution to the current mess. Negotiations are ruled out, and if so, why would the USA be trusted even if it returned to the JCPOA's framework?

 

Kinda funny, but what you posted pretty much applies to how Iran got itself into this situation - being untrustworthy, breaching international agreements, and antagonizing quite a few countries while at it. Similarities with regard to rhetoric, as well.

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7 minutes ago, Morch said:

 

Well, don't keep everyone waiting - how do Iranians think, then? Do they think differently than other people? Other nations? Are they some sort of hive-mind?

 

Things could get out of hand, even if no side really wants them to - but I think it more likely that, one way or another, there will be negotiations, and an agreement. The theatrics, labels and such could vary.

Doesn't seem so likely to me. Not so long ago, Pompeo listed 12 demands that he said were not negotiable.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/mike-pompeo-speech-12-demands-iran-180521151737787.html

Demands that would remake the mideast into a playground for the wealthy Sunni nations in the mideast and increase the threat to Shiites in the mideast.  Could be that the Iranians understand that the offer of negotiations is a way for the US to keep the sanctions in effect whilst avoiding the electoral risks of war. Why would the Iranians believe that the Americans were entering negotiations in good faith, given the prominence of Pompeo and Bolton? I think the mullahs understand that those 2 gentlemen still have in mind their removal from power and reducing Iran to a toothless power in the mideast. 

 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Morch said:

 

 

Kinda funny, but what you posted pretty much applies to how Iran got itself into this situation - being untrustworthy, breaching international agreements, and antagonizing quite a few countries while at it. Similarities with regard to rhetoric, as well.

Really? Iran got itself into this current situation because it was untrustworthy, it was breaching international agreements, and antagonizing quite a few countries? I think most dispassionate observers would disagree with you about that. Iran is in the current situation because of Donald Trump's implacable apparent enmity.

Obama, others warned Trump that pulling out of Iran nuke deal could lead to war

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/obama-others-warned-trump-pulling-out-iran-nuke-deal-could-n1020461

Edited by bristolboy
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Of course, given some instances of his past performance Trump might just reverse course and accept a face-saving deal. His enmity towards Iran is likely based in his desire to continue to attempt undo the achievements of his predecessor. That could be outweighed by political considerations regarding the next election.

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