Trump denies offering to remove sanctions on Iran for talks

Rouhani claims Tehran would not engage with US approach due to ‘toxic atmosphere’

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at a press conference in New York on Thursday. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at a press conference in New York on Thursday. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

 

US president Donald Trump has denied he offered to remove all sanctions on Iran in exchange for talks, contradicting comments made by the Iranian president earlier on Friday.

Hassan Rouhani said the US had made the approach to facilitate a meeting but Tehran had not yet accepted the offer due to the current “toxic atmosphere”.

Mr Rouhani, speaking on his return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said he met there with US officials at the insistence of Germany, the UK and France.

“It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted and they [the United States] had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions,” Mr Rouhani said, according to his official website.

Iran was ready for negotiations but not in an atmosphere of sanctions and pressure, the Iranian president said.

“This action wasn’t in a manner that was acceptable, meaning that in the atmosphere of sanctions and the existence of sanctions and the toxic atmosphere of maximum pressure, even if we want to negotiate with the Americans in the 5+1 framework, no one can predict what the end and result of this negotiation will be,” he said.

The P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, plus Germany.

Later on Friday Mr Trump said on Twitter: “Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!”

The leaders did not meet in New York and European and Gulf officials expect Washington to keep squeezing Iran’s economy.

The US and Iran are at odds over a host of issues, including the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, accusations that Iran attacked two Saudi oil facilities on September 14th, and Iran’s detention of US citizens on what Washington regards as spurious grounds. – Reuters