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Iran’s Rouhani to Trump: Lift sanctions before everything else

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reiterated his stand that if US President Donald Trump wants to open negotiations with Tehran, he must lift all sanctions against his country “before everything else.”

Rouhani made the comments late on Tuesday during a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in which he reiterated that America’s sanctions on his country are an act of “economic terrorism”.

During the meeting, Rouhani also said the Trump administration is “mistaken” to think that its “maximum pressure” campaign could bring about regime change in the country.

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Tensions have escalated since Trump last year withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and imposed new and harsher sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors.

Last week, the US administration also announced financial sanctions on Zarif, after Trump last month imposed similar measures on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The sanctions are seen as part of a US pressure campaign on Iran.

The New Yorker magazine has reported that before imposing sanctions against Zarif, Trump had offered to hold a meeting with him at the White House – a proposal that Tehran brushed aside as a mere photo-op lacking in substance.

Iran’s UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, sent a letter on Tuesday to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres protesting what he called the “illegal” sanctions on Zarif.

Ravanchi said they are part of US policy “waging economic terrorism against the Iranian people and bringing pressure to bear on their representatives.”

Infringement of diplomatic law

Iran considers the sanctions “a flagrant infringement of the fundamental principles of diplomatic law” that contravene the privileges and immunities of UN diplomats and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said.

US imposes sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

The ambassador said the sanctions signify “the US regime despises diplomacy, which is one of the greatest achievements of humanity to preserve and uphold peace and security among nations”.

Ravavanchi added that the US action “threatens multilateralism as the foundation of international relations and sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for those who aspire to rather divide, not unite nations.”

“It is imperative for the international community to condemn the United States’ unlawful behavior in the interest of promoting multilateralism … (and) stand firm in defending the established principles of international law,” Ravanchi said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s defence ministry launched on Tuesday a new set of “smart and precision-guided bombs” developed by local weapons experts.

Defence Minister Brig Gen Amir Hatami said the homegrown “smart bombs” could hit a target from a distance of 50km.

Iran has been stepping up its defence capabilities amid heightened tensions in the region and threats from the US and its Middle Eastern allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

(Source: Al Jazeera)


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