Khamenei aide says US approached him in Kabul seeking talks with Iran
DUBAI: A close aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday U.S. officials had approached him during a visit he made last month to Afghanistan to request talks with Tehran, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
Tensions between arch foes, Iran and the United States, have increased since last May, when President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic that had been lifted under the terms of the
The decline in Chinese investment comes amid pact.
"During my visit to Kabul last month, the Americans... asked to hold talks," the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, was quoted as saying, without specifying what the U.S. side wanted to discuss.
U.S. officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.
In 2001, Iran worked with the United States to help set up a new Afghan government to replace the Taliban, which had been toppled by a U.S.-led military campaign following al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on U.S. cities.
Shamkhani was in Kabul last month for talks with the Taliban "to help curb the security problems in Afghanistan". He said the Kabul government had known of his talks with the Taliban.
Majority-Shi'ite Iran has long had close ties to Shi'ites in neighboring Afghanistan whose militias have fought the Taliban's Sunni militants.
Washington accuses Iran of trying to extend its influence in western Afghanistan by providing military training, financing and weapons to the Taliban, a charge
Some security experts applaud what they call long-overdue protections for U.S. startups.
"What we are concerned about is a limited number of bad actors who are phenomenally clever about how they can access our intellectual property," said Bob Ackerman, founder of AllegisCyber, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco and Maryland that backs cyber security startups.
Rhodium calculates that, on average, 21 percent of Chinese venture investment in the United States from 2000 through 2017 came from state-owned funds, which are controlled at least in part by the Chinese government. In 2018, that figure surged to 41 percent.
But some tech industry players say Washington is casting too wide a net in its zeal to check Beijing.
"A lot of innocent business people are getting" caught up in the administration's spat with China, said Wei Guo, the Chinaborn founding partner of Silicon Valley firm UpHonest Capital, whose funding comes mostly from foreign investors with ties to China.
Adding to Silicon Valley's anxiety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken a more active role in policing Chinese investment.
Two industry veterans, a startup adviser and a venture capitalist who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters they were recently cautioned by the FBI not to pursue deals with Chinese investors. The two people did not name the Chinese entities of interest to the FBI, but said the deals concerned U.S. companies building artificial intelligence and autonomous driving technologies.
Whether any of this deters China from reaching its goal of dominating advanced technologies remains to be seen. China can still invest in U.S. technology through layers of funds that obscure the money source. And Chinese investors are redirecting funds to promising companies in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
U.S. startups, meanwhile, are rewriting deal terms to avoid a CFIUS review. Strategies include adding provisions to prevent foreign investors from obtaining proprietary technical information, and denying them board rights, veto rights or additional equity in future rounds, attorneys told Reuters.
"People are rightfully concerned about making sure they are on the safe side of the fence," said Jeff Farrah, general counsel of the National Venture Capital Association. Tehran denies.
Shamkhani's comments came days after reports of talks between U.S. and Taliban officials over proposals for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and a future withdrawal of foreign troops ahead of possible peace negotiations.
Khamenei slapped down an offer of direct talks made by Trump last year and Iranian officials have said Washington's crippling sanctions would fail to wreck the economy.
In July, Iranian authorities said Tehran had rejected eight U.S. requests for a meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in Sept 2017.
"America's fantasy and hostile measures have led nowhere, in spite of all their vengeful efforts towards the Iranian people, and will certainly not in the future," Iranian state TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying on Monday.
"Our nation will never yield to the cruel pressures of the United States. We will never bend to those who talk the language of sanctions and build walls instead of bridges."