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US plans to stick to policy of harsh economic sanctions on Iran: Hook

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The United States plans to stick to its policy of harsh economic sanctions on Iran in an effort to bring it to the negotiating table on issues such as the nuclear program, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook adding that “timidity and weakness invites more Iranian aggression.”

“We refuse to play by that rule book. When you play under house rules, the house always wins,” Hook said. “So we are going to continue with our policy.”

The door remains open, however, for a wider negotiation with Iran about its nuclear program and other issues, but so far talks have been limited to prisoner releases, Hook added.

“(President Donald Trump) has had the door open to diplomacy for many years and in the same time frame, he has met (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un three times. So, we would like to see the (Iranian) regime meet our diplomacy with diplomacy,” he told reporters a day after Iran freed US citizen Michael White.

Hook said US-Iranian negotiations have so far not gone beyond discussing the mutual release of prisoners to such issues as Iran’s nuclear program. US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook also said the number of US citizens wrongly detained abroad who will be released will grow, but provided no details on when or where that might happen.

The US official reiterated an appeal for Iran to release American citizens Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi and conservationist Morad Tahbaz. He specifically asked for the latter two to be furloughed from prison on medical grounds.

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