US prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions, Mike Pompeo says
Iran’s destabilising regional interference would have to be discussed, Mr Pompeo said.
Until now, Iranian officials have dismissed the idea of talks without first removing sanctions reimposed when the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers last year.
Over the past 13 months, America has increased pressure on Iran by banning oil exports and cutting off revenue for the government.
But on Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani suggested he may be willing to hold talks if Washington showed some respect.
But Mr Rouhani said Tehran would not be pressured into discussions.
“We are prepared to engage in conversations with no pre-conditions,” Mr Pompeo said after the Iranian leader’s comments.
“We’re ready to sit down with them but the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this revolutionary force is going to continue.”
Switzerland has long represented the US interests in Iran, where America has no diplomatic mission, and has offered to again play intermediary between Tehran and Washington.
Mr Pompeo’s meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, in the southern town of Bellinzona, came amid concerns about the risk of escalation and miscalculation with Iran – a situation that has many in Europe and the Middle East on edge.
He said US President Donald Trump had been saying for a long time that he was willing to talk to Iran.
“We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation,” Mr Pompeo said.
Mr Trump last Monday said he hoped Iran would come to the negotiating table and that he was confident he could make a deal.
But supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran would not negotiate with Washington, even after Mr Rouhani had signalled that talks might be possible if sanctions were lifted.
Read more at The National
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