This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he rejected a request by Tehran to lift U.S. sanctions in exchange for talks, contradicting earlier comments by the Iranian president.
“Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!” Trump tweeted on September 27, after Iranian President Hassan Rohani said the United States offered to remove all sanctions on Iran in exchange for talks on the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
European leaders have tried to get the United States and Iran to revive diplomacy during this week’s UN General Assembly in New York, amid heightened tensions between the two countries over Iran’s nuclear program and other issues.
Speaking earlier on September 27 on his return from the UN gathering, Rohani quoted the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany as saying the United States was ready to lift sanctions in exchange for talks on the nuclear deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron “all insisted” on a meeting between Iran and the six other signatories to the nuclear agreement, Rohani told reporters.
“They said America was saying it would lift the sanctions. Another issue under discussion was which sanctions would be lifted. They had clearly stated that we would lift all sanctions.”
But Rohani said such a meeting was “unacceptable” due to the current “poisonous atmosphere.”
The parties to the pact under which Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions initially included Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.
But Washington last year withdrew from the accord and has since reimposed and expanded sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil exports and crippling its economy, while Tehran has reduced some of its commitments under the accord.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated further over a number of incidents in the Persian Gulf, including a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Western European countries have blamed on Iran, which denies involvement.
Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, and agree curbs to its ballistic-missile program.
Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.