Washington is willing to speak with Iran “with no preconditions”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, but stressed his country would continue working to rein in what he called Iran’s “malign activity”.
“We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions. We are ready to sit down with them,” Pompeo told a joint news conference in Switzerland with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.
“The American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic Republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue,” Pompeo added.
Iran has repeatedly said it would not talk to the US while it is under renewed sanctions.
Pompeo’s latest comments come amid continuing tensions between Washington and Tehran.
‘Bullied into negotiations’
On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Iran may be willing to hold talks if the United States showed its respect.
Rouhani said Tehran would not be “bullied” into negotiations with Washington, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
“We are for logic and talks if [the other side] sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows international regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate,” Fars news agency cited Rouhani as saying.
“We have shown that we do not submit to bullying and covetous powers,” he said.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Thursday Washington would present evidence linking Iran to attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.
The alleged evidence would be presented to the United Nations Security Council as early as next week, Bolton said, reiterating earlier claims suggesting that Iran was behind the May 12 attack on four commercial ships in the Gulf.
“I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates,” Bolton told reporters in London.
On Wednesday, Bolton, without offering evidence, alleged the tankers were targeted by “naval mines almost certainly from Iran”.
Tehran rejected the accusation as “ridiculous” and has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.
US President Donald Trump, who unilaterally pulled the US out of a landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme, has tightened sanctions on Tehran, eliminating waivers that had allowed some countries to buy Iranian oil, with the goal of reducing the country’s crude exports to zero.
The US also designated the IRGC a “terrorist organisation” in April.
Last month, Washington deployed bombers and warships to the Middle East, citing “credible threats” from Iran. It did not offer evidence for the claim and Tehran dismissed the move as “psychological warfare”.
The B-52 bombers arrived at a US airbase in Qatar, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said, while the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was sent to the Arabian Sea.
Al Jazeera and news agencies