Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Zarif: Talks Contingent on US Ending ‘Economic Terrorism’

The cat-and-mouse game between the United States and Iran continued Thursday, when the latter’s foreign minister reiterated that Tehran would only countenance a return to the negotiating table if Washington first lifts economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. “The United States is [waging] an economic war against the Iranian people and it won’t be possible for us to [engage diplomatically]… unless they stop,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “So, if they want to come back into the room,” the top Iranian diplomat continued, “there is a ticket that they need to purchase and that ticket is to observe the [2015 multilateral nuclear] agreement.” While US President Donald Trump in May of last year withdrew from the pact, earlier this week he restated a willingness to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani. Somewhat ironically, Zarif’s comments came a day after he announced Iran’s intent to further curb its commitments to the nuclear accord beginning September 6; this, unless European powers provide the Islamic Republic with financial relief beforehand. It appears, however, that neither side is prepared to blink first, with US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday conditioning the removal of economic sanctions on the mullahs on the finalization of a new comprehensive nuclear deal.

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