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“Iran will progress”: Khamenei rejects Trump’s offer to negotiate

Discarding US President Donald Trump as a person who is not “worthy of exchanging messages with”, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected Trump’s offer to negotiate, and stressed that Iran will progress without negotiations and despite sanctions.

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AFP |

Iran’s supreme leader told visiting Japanese prime minister on Thursday he does not consider US President Donald Trump “worthy” of exchanging messages with.

“We have no doubt in your good will and seriousness but regarding what you said the US president told you, I don’t consider Trump as a person worthy of exchanging messages with,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Shinzo Abe, in footage of their meeting aired by state television in a rarity for such high-level talks.

“I have no response for him and will not answer him,” he added.

The visit coincided with a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, off the Iranian coast, with one of the ships owned by a Japanese company, which again sent tensions in the Gulf soaring.

Read more: Iran’s shifting foreign ties to counter US advance – M K…

US-Iran Trust Deficit

Iran “has no trust in America and will not in any way repeat the bitter experience of the previous negotiations with America,” Khamenei said in comments published by his official website.

Khamenei stressed, “No free & wise nation would accept negotiations under pressure.”

Iran has been locked in a bitter standoff with the United States since May last year when Trump abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama’s administration.

Washington has since reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions — which have forced Tokyo to halt its once-substantial purchases of Iranian oil — and has launched a military buildup in the Gulf that has sent tensions soaring.

Accusing U.S officials of lacking “genuineness”, Khamenei stated, “We do not believe at all that the U.S. is seeking genuine negotiations with Iran; because genuine negotiations would never come from a person like Trump.”

Read more: Japan to be a mediator between Iran and US

Referring to Trump’s remarks on the importance of negotiations with the US for Iran’s progress, the Iranian Supreme Leader stressed that “without negotiations & despite sanctions, we (Iran) will progress.”

“President Trump has said he does not wish to see the escalation of tensions,” Abe told reporters after his meeting.

“I shared candidly with Ayatollah Khamenei my own views about what intention the president has in mind”, Abe added, emphasising he had “exchanged views with President Trump several times”.

Khamenei stressed, “No free & wise nation would accept negotiations under pressure.”

Abe said he believed his meeting with Khamenei was “a significant step forward” for “securing peace and stability of this region.”

During a news conference with Abe on Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said he expected a “very positive change” in the Middle East and the world if the United States stopped what he called its “economic war” on Iran through sanctions.

Trump indicated last week in France that he could consider talking to Tehran, saying: “I understand they want to talk and if they want to talk that’s fine.”

Read more: Another attack in the Gulf: U.S holds Iran responsible with video…

Washington’s “Sabotage Diplomacy”

The reported attacks on the two tankers off the Iranian coast, just as Abe held talks in Tehran, was more than suspicious, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said.

“Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Zarif tweeted.

Referring to the US National Security Advisor John Bolton-led “B-Team” and its agenda of “economic terrorism against Iran”, the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted, “The US immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence—only makes it abundantly clear that the B_Team is moving to a Plan B: Sabotage diplomacy.”

Read more: “The US created ISIS” says Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

One of the two tankers — Kokuka Courageous — belongs to the Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. The ship’s owners confirmed their tanker had been attacked and that all of its 21 crew members had been rescued.

Iran’s navy rescued 44 sailors in all from the Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair after fires ignited on both vessels. Front Altair was reportedly still burning by late Thursday, but the situation aboard Kokuka Courageous was under control with the fire extinguished, according to an Iranian official involved in the rescue operation.

According to Iranian state media, the Front Altair was carrying ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan, while the Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Read more: Reconciliation of Trump and Rouhani administrations: Abe visits Iran

Abe’s Mission Unsuccessful?

Abe began his visit to Iran on Wednesday with the stated aim of defusing tensions between Tehran and Washington. Japan stopped importing Iranian crude oil in May to comply with US sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Abe said he believed his meeting with Khamenei was “a significant step forward” for “securing peace and stability of this region.”

The Asian powerhouse has an interest in keeping the Middle East stable in order to ensure the flow of hydrocarbons to fuel its economy. Rouhani said Wednesday he saw “Japan’s interest in continuing to buy oil from Iran and fixing financial issues” as a “guarantee” for the ongoing development of bilateral ties.

Read more: Trump has ‘disgraced’ US prestige: Iran’s Khamenei

Spokesman for Japan’s foreign ministry, Takeshi Osuga, later said that on the questions of Iranian oil sales to Japan, “our understanding is that this was the wish of the Iranian side.” But he added: “Oil purchase (from Iran) is the decision of private companies. I cannot predict their decision.”

The Japan PM met with Khamenei to deliver a message from Trump, the leader’s website claimed, despite the Japanese delegation repeatedly denying that Abe was on a mediatory mission.