Iran’s Rouhani says US ‘lying’ about talks offer
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that new US sanctions against senior Iranian officials including top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif showed Washington is “lying” about an offer to negotiate.
“At the same time as you call for negotiations, you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s obvious that you’re lying,” Rouhani said in a meeting with ministers broadcast live on TV.
His comments came after US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Washington had “held the door open to real negotiations” but that “in response, Iran’s silence has been deafening”.
Rouhani also questioned the logic of blacklisting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and said it showed that Washington is “confused.”
“The leader’s assets are a Hosseiniye (Shiite place of worship) and a simple house. Our leaders are not like other countries’ leaders who have billions in an account abroad so you can sanction it, seize it or block it,” Rouhani said.
“To sanction him for what? Not to travel to America? That’s cute.”
Trump imposed new sanctions Monday against Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military chiefs, further raising the stakes in an escalating regional standoff.
The US Treasury said it would also blacklist Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif and eight top commanders from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Iran and the US broke off diplomatic relations in 1980 over the hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran following Iran’s Islamic revolution.
The latest tensions come a year after Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral pact with Iran over its nuclear programme.
Rouhani noted that there had been chances for talks with the US.
Zarif met several times former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson before Washington unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Zarif, a political moderate, was a key architect of the deal under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But both he and Rouhani have accused Washington of waging “economic war” on Iran since pulling out of the accord.
Tehran has threatened to scale down some of its commitments under the deal unless the remaining international parties — Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — help it circumvent US sanctions, particularly through vital oil exports.
“This White House is mentally disabled and doesn’t know what to do,” Rouhani said.
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