Zarif: Talks with US re­quire mu­tual re­spect

Iran Daily - - National -

Iran’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said that any fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions with the United States re­quire a new ap­proach by Wash­ing­ton as well as mu­tual re­spect.

“Mu­tual trust is not a re­quire­ment to start ne­go­ti­a­tions – mu­tual re­spect is a re­quire­ment,” Zarif said in a wide-rang­ing, 45-minute in­ter­view with USA TO­DAY.

The Trump “ad­min­is­tra­tion does not be­lieve in diplo­macy. It be­lieves in im­po­si­tion,” Zarif said in the in­ter­view, just be­fore the White House on Mon­day reim­posed eco­nomic sanc­tions on Iran’s en­ergy and bank­ing sec­tors.

While the US govern­ment in­sists the sanc­tions do not tar­get hu­man­i­tar­ian goods, amid a cur­rency crash and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies pulling out of Iran, ba­sic goods have be­come more ex­pen­sive and some life-saving medicines un­avail­able.

“Mu­tual re­spect starts with re­spect­ing your­self, with re­spect­ing your sig­na­ture, re­spect­ing your own word,” Zarif said, a ref­er­ence to var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional agree­ments Trump has aban­doned or rene­go­ti­ated since tak­ing of­fice.

Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter spoke to USA TO­DAY in An­talya, a re­sort town on Turkey’s south­west­ern Mediter­ranean coast, where he was at­tend­ing an eco­nomic con­fer­ence. He ad­dressed how Iran’s al­ready­crip­pled econ­omy will cope with the sanc­tions and at­tempts by Euro­pean lead­ers to sal­vage the ac­cord with­out Wash­ing­ton.

“The cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion is es­sen­tially ask­ing all mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional law” by forc­ing them to break a deal that was en­shrined in a United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion, Zarif said, later adding: “Iran is used to US sanc­tions. We’ve had them for al­most 39 years.”

Zarif also spoke about Iran’s role in the Mid­dle East re­gion and Tehran’s ties with Riyadh.

The Saudis have come un­der in­tense scru­tiny in re­cent weeks fol­low­ing the mur­der of the Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi state op­er­a­tives in Is­tan­bul, Turkey.

“Un­for­tu­nately, a per­son has been mur­dered in a very bru­tal way,” Zarif said, re­fer­ring to Khashoggi’s killing in­side the Saudi Con­sulate. “Who cre­ated the Tal­iban? Whose cit­i­zens were in­volved in the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks? Who sup­ported the Is­lamic State group [Daesh] in Syria? Who is bomb­ing Ye­meni civil­ians? Who ab­ducted [Le­banon’s prime min­is­ter] and kept him in cap­tiv­ity for three weeks? … Look at all th­ese re­al­i­ties,” he added, say­ing Saudi in­volve­ment in th­ese episodes, not all of which have been con­clu­sively proven.

“The United States has been not only mak­ing the wrong choice [by be­ing a Saudi ally] but the West has been send­ing the wrong sig­nal. Ba­si­cally, lit­er­ally, telling the Saudi royal fam­ily that you can get away with mur­der.”

Zarif noted that Trump’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from the nu­clear ac­cord came over the ob­jec­tions of the USA’S clos­est al­lies – and de­spite re­peated con­fir­ma­tion from the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency that Iran has been com­ply­ing with the ac­cord’s terms.

“For some­body to sim­ply say, “I don’t like it. I want to walk away from it be­cause I be­lieve I am pow­er­ful enough to do it.’ What is the guar­an­tee that they won’t do that again in the next agree­ment?” Zarif said in the in­ter­view.

“It doesn’t have to be a dif­fer­ent ad­min­is­tra­tion, but it does re­quire a dif­fer­ent ap­proach,” Zarif stressed, re­fer­ring to what it would take for Iran to join US talks.

Trump has said in re­cent weeks that he is open to the idea of hold­ing talks with Iran’s lead­er­ship, with­out pre­con­di­tions, about the prospect of a new nu­clear deal – an of­fer that Iran has re­jected.

“We reached an agree­ment with the United States, not a two-page agree­ment, but a 150-page agree­ment. And the United States de­cided to walk away from it,” Zarif said.

He then rat­tled off a litany of agree­ments the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ei­ther with­drawn from or de­manded that they be rene­go­ti­ated, from the Paris cli­mate ac­cords to the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) to a land­mark arms con­trol agree­ment with Rus­sia dat­ing to the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion in the 1980s.

“It wasn’t our fault that the United States is not a re­li­able ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ner,” Zarif said in the in­ter­view. “It’s a prob­lem that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is fac­ing.”


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