Presidential Aide: Negotiations with US useless

FNA – A political aide to the Iranian president strongly rejected talks with the US, stressing that negotiating with Washington produces no result.

“I should frankly say that negotiation under the present conditions is useless in practice and it could even be harmful in some areas,” said Deputy-Director of the Presidential Chief of Staff for Political Affairs Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, who was a former senior negotiator of Iran’s team of diplomats in the talks with the world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal.

“We do not take Mr. Trump’s recent remarks seriously and believe that it is kind of a tactic,” he added.

Takht-e Ravanchi underlined that for negotiations to yield results, the two sides should respect each other and do not speak from a superior position.

He also dismissed media speculations that Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi’s recent visit to Washington was aimed at conveying a message from Iran to the American officials.

Trump said on July 30 that he would “certainly meet” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani without preconditions, a move that was later rejected by Trump’s own administration.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, Trump said he would meet Iran “anytime they want to”. “I’ll meet with anybody,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.”

Asked whether he would set any preconditions, Trump was clear. “No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I’ll meet any time they want,” he said. “Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

After the comment, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to contradict Trump, listing preconditions that had to be met first.

He told CNBC that “if the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter in a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have a conversation with him”.

Also, Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the president’s National Security Council, later said in a statement the US would not lift any sanctions or re-establish diplomatic and commercial relations until “there are tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran’s policies”.

“Until then,” he said, “the sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course.”

Hamid Aboutalebi, one of Rouhani’s advisers, set his own conditions for any meeting with Trump, saying “respect for the great nation of Iran”, returning to the nuclear deal and a reduction in hostilities were needed first.

Also, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari dismissed Trump’s call for negotiations with Tehran, reminding him that Iran is totally different from North Korea.

“Mr. Trump! Iran is not North Korea to give a positive response to your demand for a meeting. You should know that the Iranian nation…will never allow their officials to negotiate and meet with the Great Satan,” Jafari wrote in a letter.

He described Trump as an unskilled president in politics, and said, “The former US presidents who were either military men or politicians knew much better than you or they learned that Iran and the Iranian people cannot be threatened and rather grow united and single-hearted against any threat and pressure by foreigners.”

“You will take this wish to the grave to see the day when the Islamic Republic of Iran demands for a meeting with you or is allowed by the nation to meet you. You will never see that day,” General Jafari said, addressing Trump.

He underlined that the next US presidents will not see another day when the Iranian officials sit to the negotiating table with them either.

General Jafari said that the Iranian nation will resist until it achieves final victory and inflicts ultimate defeat on the arrogant powers by withstanding the cruel and inhumane sanctions thanks to the divine promises, huge internal resources and the leadership of a wise leader.

Trump announced on May 8 that Washington would no longer remain part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and promised to re-impose the highest level of economic sanctions against Iran.

The sanctions reinstated on Iran on May 8 included boycott of Iran’s crude supplies and bans on transfer of its crude revenues. There is a 180 days interval before these sanctions come into effect. Other US secondary sanctions are reinstated this month.

After Trump’s declaration, the Iranian government issued a statement, calling the US withdrawal as “unlawful”. The statement underlined Iran’s prerequisites for continuing the deal with the five world powers. These conditions that were reiterated later by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei later mainly included Iran’s guaranteed crude sales and transfer of its revenues back home.

Two months later, the other five powers party to the nuclear deal have failed to satisfy Iran. President Hassan Rouhani voiced his disappointment over a recent package of incentives proposed by the European Union countries to Tehran, and said that the Islamic Republic expected a much better, clearer and explicit stance by the EU.

“Unfortunately, the EU’s package of proposals lacked an operational solution and a specific method for cooperation, and featured just a set of general commitments like the previous statements by the European Union,” President Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 5.

President Rouhani pointed to US’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and said, “After the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran has been dealing with economic issues and problems in banking relations and oil, and foreign companies that have invested in Iran are skeptical about continuing their business.”

The Iranian president, however, said that the package proposed by the three European countries (the UK, Germany, and France) on how they are going to live up to their commitments and cooperation under the JCPOA was “disappointing”.

President Rouhani reiterated that the JCPOA was a mutual commitment, and said, “Iran had expected a clear plan from the three European countries after the two months’ time they have been given to come up with solid guarantees to ensure Iran’s economic interests would continue to be met despite US pullout and reinstatement of sanctions.”

The Iranian president, however, said that Tehran would continue cooperation with Europe if the outcome of the July 6 Vienna talks would be promising.

“If the process of the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Vienna, which is aimed at encouraging Iran to cooperate, is promising, we will continue our cooperation with Europe,” Rouhani added.

But the Vienna talks on July 6 among foreign ministers from Iran and the five world powers (Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain) failed to satisfy Iran with senior officials in Tehran complaining that the Europeans had offered nothing new to ensure Iran’s continued merits under the deal.