Tillerson says he’ll talk to Iran’s Zarif ‘at the right time’

Bloomberg – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he’ll talk with his Iranian counterpart “at the right time” after elections in Iran saw moderate President Hassan Rouhani returned to power.

“I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation,” Tillerson said in Riyadh of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.”

Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, at a joint press conference, had tough words for Iran after Saturday’s election results, saying they wanted to see action, not just rhetoric from Tehran’s re-elected president.

They spoke on the first day of President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he’s making a case to Arab and Muslim leaders across the region that facing up to common threats from Iran and Islamic State give them an opportunity to forge new regional partnerships.

Rouhani, 68, won a second term easily over hard-line conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi. The margin of victory was seen as an endorsement of his efforts since 2013 to steer the nation out of isolation through its landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

‘Terrorist Network’

Tillerson said he wants Rouhani to “begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling of the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region.”

“That’s what we hope this election will bring. I’m not going to comment on my expectation,” Tillerson said.

Al-Jubeir declined to offer an opinion on the likely impact of Rouhani’s re-election, saying that who Iran chooses for its leader is its own business. “We continue to base our policy on Iran on its deeds,” he said.

Iran’s behavior is not that of “a country that wants others to treat it with respect,” he said. “If Iran wants to be a normal country, it has to act in accordance with international law.”