Lift sanctions before negotiations, Iran tells US

ANKARA (AA): Iran would enter negotiations with the U.S. if the latter first lifted economic sanctions on Tehran, Iranian state media quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying Tuesday.

“Sanctions cannot be used as a tool for forcing Iran to the negotiating table,” he said, adding that Washington should “respect the Iranian people and lift sanctions before holding talks”.

According to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency, Rouhani made the remarks while addressing Shia and Sunni Muslim scholars in Iran’s Golestan Province.

“The country is certainly facing unusual circumstances, but we don’t fear sanctions,” he was quoted as saying. “Nor will we retreat from our objectives.”

Rouhani also accused the U.S., Israel and certain Arab Gulf States of waging an “economic war” on Iran.

“Iran will never be isolated,” he went on to assert. “Now, globally, only a few countries support [Washington’s] policies regarding the [2015] nuclear deal and the sanctions.”

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).

Shortly afterward, Washington re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran targeting the country’s energy and banking sectors.