Af­ter in­vite by Trump, Ira­nian com­man­der says: No talks with US

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY AMIR VAHDAT

TEHRAN, IRAN

A top com­man­der in Iran’s pow­er­ful Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard said Fri­day that Tehran will not talk with the United States, an Ira­nian news agency re­ported – a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he’d like Ira­nian lead­ers to “call me.”

The semi-of­fi­cial Tas­nim news agency quoted Gen. Yadol­lah Ja­vani as say­ing that “there will be no ne­go­ti­a­tions with Amer­ica.”

The Ira­nian com­man­der also claimed the U.S. would not dare take mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iran but did not elab­o­rate.

The ver­bal ex­change comes as ten­sions es­ca­late be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Tehran. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion sent the air­craft car­rier USS Abra­ham Lin­coln and a bomber squadron to the re­gion in re­sponse to un­spec­i­fied threats by Iran against Amer­i­can in­ter­ests.

And on Wed­nes­day, Iran threat­ened to re­new some nu­clear en­rich­ment that had been halted un­der the 2015 nu­clear deal with world pow­ers – a year af­ter Trump pulled Amer­ica from the ac­cord, say­ing it does noth­ing to stop Iran from de­vel­op­ing mis­siles or desta­bi­liz­ing the Mid­dle East.

But in a softer ap­proach, Trump told re­porters on Thurs­day at the White House: “What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me.”

Shortly af­ter Trump spoke, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo is­sued a writ­ten state­ment that re­in­forced Trump’s tone. Af­ter re­peat­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­plaints about Iran, in­clud­ing what he called “40 years of killing Amer­i­can sol­diers, at­tack­ing Amer­i­can fa­cil­i­ties and tak­ing Amer­i­can hostages,” Pom­peo ap­pealed to “those in Tehran who see a path to a pros­per­ous fu­ture” through mod­i­fy­ing their gov­ern­ment’s be­hav­ior.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani on Wed­nes­day gave Euro­pean lead­ers a 60-day dead­line to find a way to shield Iran from U.S. sanc­tions tar­get­ing its econ­omy and oil in­dus­try. Other­wise, he said Tehran would be­gin to en­rich ura­nium at lev­els closer to weapon­s­grade lev­els.

The fol­low­ing day, the Euro­pean Union urged Iran to re­spect the in­ter­na­tional agree­ment curb­ing the Is­lamic Repub­lic’s nu­clear am­bi­tions, and added that the bloc aims to con­tinue trad­ing with the coun­try de­spite U.S. sanc­tions.

The Euro­peans in­sist the pact is an im­por­tant pil­lar of re­gional and global se­cu­rity but have strug­gled to pre­serve the in­creas­ingly un­rav­el­ling ac­cord.

Iran’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman Key­van Khos­ravi was quoted Fri­day as say­ing that Iran stands firm to with­draw from the deal un­less a ben­e­fi­cial agree­ment can be reached with the EU.

Thou­sands of Ira­ni­ans ral­lied af­ter Fri­day prayers in sup­port of Iran’s ul­ti­ma­tum, many chant­ing tra­di­tional anti-U.S. slo­gans of “Death to Amer­ica” and “Death to Is­rael.”

The demon­stra­tors burned U.S. flags and some threw fake punches at a pro­tester wear­ing a Trump cos­tume mask.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has not of­fered spe­cific de­tails of the threat al­legedly pre­sented by Iran that prompted the U.S. to dis­patch the air­craft car­rier and B-52 bombers to the Mideast.

The B-52 bombers ar­rived at an Amer­i­can air base in Qatar, the U.S. Air Force ac­knowl­edged Fri­day. Im­ages re­leased by the U.S. Air Force’s Cen­tral Com­mand show B-52H Strato­fortress bombers ar­riv­ing at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Thurs­day night.

Oth­ers landed at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion Wed­nes­day in “south­west Asia,” the Air Force said.

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