WASHINGTON: Michael R Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, on Sunday said that Washington is willing to negotiate with Iran “with no preconditions”.
Addressing a joint press conference in Switzerland, in the presence of Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, Pompeo said, “We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions. We are ready to sit down with them.”
“The American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic Republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue,” Al Jazeera quoted Pompeo as saying.
Iran has repeatedly said it would not talk to the US while it is under renewed sanctions.
Pompeo’s latest comments come amid continuing tensions between Washington and Tehran which recently heightened after Washington disposed carrier strike warships and B-52 bombers off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to counter an alleged and unexplained threat from Iran.
More troops have also been deployed in the Persian Gulf, one of the world’s most strategic waterways, in what the US officials claimed was a reaction to photographs showing Iran loading missiles onto small traditional boats, according to The Times of Israel.
On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Iran may be willing to hold talks if the United States showed its respect.
Rouhani said Tehran would not be “bullied” into negotiations with Washington, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
“We are for 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,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
“We have shown that we do not submit to bullying and covetous powers,” he added.
In addition, US President Donald Trump, who unilaterally pulled the US out of a landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme, has tightened sanctions on Tehran, eliminating waivers that had allowed some countries to buy Iranian oil, with the goal of reducing the country’s crude exports to zero.
In April, Washington further designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a “terrorist organisation”.