US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls on Iran to “come to the table” for talks, repeating President Donald Trump's offer that Washington was ready to conduct the negotiations without preconditions.
“The Iranians continue to say they will talk about it, but only if the United States does something. We need them to come to the table, it’s the right way to resolve these challenges,” Pompeo said on Friday.
This comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran, which started when the US unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral Iran nuclear deal clinched between the Islamic Republic and world powers in 2015, and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif who was in New York to attend the annual gathering of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), had reportedly met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Thursday to discuss the possibility of holding talks between the US and Iran.
On Friday, Trump confirmed he had authorized Paul to talk with Iran, although earlier on Wednesday he denied reports he had permitted the senator to serve as an emissary to Tehran.
Trump also said that he would join the negotiation process if other senators asked him to do so.
“Rand is a friend of mine, and Rand asked me if he could get involved. The answer is yes, and if the other senators ask me to get involved, I’d probably say yes depending on who they were,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday. “I have many people involved, and Iran is going to work out very nicely. “
Paul has said, “I think there is a possible opening that Iran would sign an agreement,” which “would be a huge breakthrough.”
“I think President Trump is one of the few people who actually could get that deal,” Paul said. “And he will get it because he’s strong, and he is showing maximum pressure, but he is also willing to talk,” he told Fox News on Thursday.
On the same day, the US, however, imposed sanctions on seven companies along with three individuals it claims helped procure materials for Iran’s nuclear program.
That marked the first time Washington imposed sanctions on Iran since Tehran announced it would surpass the uranium stockpile limit set under the Iran nuclear deal.
In May, Iran informed the five remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal - the UK, Germany, Russia, China and France - of its decision to suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the agreement, exactly one year after the United States unilaterally abandoned it.