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Iran leader rules out US talks as tensions rise over Saudi attacks

Iran leader rules out US talks as tensions rise over Saudi attacks

AFP
Tehran
Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with the US “at any level”, as tensions mounted between the arch-foes after Washington blamed Tehran for weekend attacks on Saudi oil installations.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, which halved oil output in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter. But on Tuesday, a US official upped the pressure on Tehran, sayinf the strike was launched from Iranian soil and that cruise missiles were involved.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the US was gathering evidence to present to the international community at the UN General Assembly next week.
US Vice President Mike Pence said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would travel Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to “discuss our response”.
Earlier in the day, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US had adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran because it believes it cannot bring the Islamic republic to its knees through other means.
“The policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against the Iranian nation is worthless and all Islamic Republic of Iran officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the US at any level,” he said in a televised address. US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper also labelled Iran a destabilising force in the region, but stopped short of directly accusing Tehran over the strikes. The US military, he said, was working with its partners to “address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran”.
The Iranian president has said that even if that happens, any talks must be held in the framework of the nuclear accord. Khamenei reiterated this on Tuesday, saying that if the US “repents” and returns to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, then it can talk to Iran along with other parties to the deal.
“If the US takes back its words and repents after pulling out of the JCPOA... then it can join the other countries party to the JCPOA and talk to Iran along with the other countries,” he said, using the agreement’s formal title. “Without this, no negotiations will happen at any level between the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials and the Americans, not during the visit to New York or any other visit.”

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