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Defiant Rouhani demands end to sanctions before negotiations

"We cannot believe the invitation to negotiations by people who claim to have applied the harshest sanctions in history against the dignity and prosperity of our nation," he said.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ruled out negotiations with the United States so long as sanctions are in place and said he was not interested in a “memento photo” with President Donald Trump.

“I would like to announce that our response to any negotiation under sanctions is negative,” Rouhani said in an address to the UN General Assembly.

As European leaders sought to arrange a tension-reducing encounter between the Iranian and US presidents, Rouhani dismissed what he saw a photo-op for the media-hungry Trump.

Prospects for a broad pact led by Tehran look unlikely as several of the Gulf Arab states have tense relations with Iran.

“Memento photos are the final stage of negotiations, not the first one,” he said. He doubted the sincerity of the United States to negotiate, pointing to Trump administration officials’ boasts of damage inflicted by sanctions on Iran.

“We cannot believe the invitation to negotiations by people who claim to have applied the harshest sanctions in history against the dignity and prosperity of our nation,” he said.

“How can someone believe them when the silent killing of a great nation, and pressure on the lives of 83 million Iranians, especially women and children, are welcomed by American government officials?” “The Iranian nation will never, ever forget and forgive these crimes and these criminals,” he said.

Read more: ‘Muslim unity against US’: Rouhani’s call at desperate times

“End war in Yemen”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday demanded that Saudi Arabia end its offensive in Yemen after an attack in the oil-rich kingdom which Washington blamed on Tehran.

“The security of Saudi Arabia will be guaranteed with the termination of aggression in Yemen, rather than by inviting foreigners,” he told the UN General Assembly.

Saudi Arabia is leading an air campaign aimed at defeating Iranian-backed Huthi rebels who control much of Yemen, contributing to a humanitarian crisis in which thousands of civilians have died and millions are on the brink of starvation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday demanded that Saudi Arabia end its offensive in Yemen after an attack in the oil-rich kingdom.

The Huthis claimed responsibility for air attacks this month on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, but US officials blamed Iran and said the rebels did not have the range of sophistication to target the facilities.

Rouhani, mirroring US efforts to rally its Arab allies, invited regional countries to join a “Coalition for Hope” in which he said they would pledge non-aggression and non-interference in one another’s affairs. “The security of the region shall be provided when American troops pull out,” Rouhani said.

“In the event of an incident, you and we shall not remain alone. We are neighbors with each other and not with the United States,” he said.

Read more: Iran’s Rouhani seeks to counter US pressure on first Iraq visit

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, elaborating on the idea at a UN Security Council session called by Russia, called for a summit among all countries along the Strait of Hormuz, the strategically vital gateway into the Gulf.

The countries will declare their zone free from weapons of mass destruction and form a pact of mutual non-aggression, Zarif said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran stands ready to fully engage in dialogue with the regional countries to discuss all aspects of this initiative,” Zarif said.

Prospects for a broad pact led by Tehran look unlikely as several of the Gulf Arab states have tense relations with Iran.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk. 

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