Trump warns Iran not to kill protesters, door still open to talks

WASHINGTON (Agencies): Donald Trump warned Iran on Sunday against killing protesters who have risen up over the regime’s downing of a civilian airliner as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions.

Trump’s salvo came as Iran’s Islamic regime faced a challenge from angry street protests, having come to the brink of war with the US with a series of tit-for-tat confrontations.

“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted, warning the world and “more importantly, the USA is watching.”

In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” just before the tweet, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Trump was stilling willing to hold talks with Iran’s leaders.

“We’re willing to sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward, a series of steps by which Iran becomes a more normal country,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Hundreds of students gathered outside the Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran on Saturday to honour those who were killed in the Ukraine-bound flight shot down by the Iranian military.

A rally turned into a violent protest later, with participants demanding the resignation and prosecution of those responsible for the crash.   ?

Ukraine’s Boeing 737 took off from the Tehran airport on 8 January to be shot down minutes later.

The crash claimed the lives of all 176 people on board, most of them Iranian nationals. Three days later, the IRGC admitted to having accidentally downed the plane after mistaking it for a cruise missile.