Iran rules out talks unless U.S. changes 'behavior'

US flexes military muscle in Arabian Sea but open to 'no preconditions' Iran talks

US flexes military muscle in Arabian Sea but open to 'no preconditions' Iran talks

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis attend a joint news conference at the medieval Castelgrande castle in Bellinzona, Switzerland June 2, 2019.

The State Department later pointed to remarks Trump had made almost a year ago in which he said he was willing to hold talks with Iran without conditions.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will absolutely not sit for talks with America ... because first, it bears no fruit and second, it is harmful", the Leader said last week.

"We are for logic and talks if [the other side] sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows worldwide regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate", he said, according to Iran's Fars news agency.

Switzerland represents USA interests in Iran.

He said Switzerland would be pleased to serve as an intermediary, but not a "mediator", between the United States and Iran.

Switzerland has been representing U.S. interests in Iran for almost 40 years and is hoping to take over a similar task with protecting power mandate in Venezuela.

Cassis also mentioned the importance of a multilateral cooperation within the United Nations.

Pompeo a year ago listed 12 actions he said Iran must adopt before the US would end the sanctions, including "stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program".

He called past talks with the United States, in which the USA agreed to the 2015 global pact to curb Tehran's ambitions only to have President Donald Trump abrogate it, were "not very optimistic and does not provide an optimistic perspective for a future deal".

Pompeo, who is considered a hawk on Iranian issues, appeared to soften the U.S. stance somewhat on Sunday following weeks of escalating tensions with Tehran.

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The US secretary of state said he was optimistic about the bilateral free trade agreement and praised the potential business opportunities in Switzerland notably for the US defence industry.

Until now, Iranian officials have dismissed the idea of talks without first removing sanctions reimposed on Iran when the USA pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal previous year.

Rouhani had suggested on Saturday that Iran might be willing to hold talks if Washington showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks.

"This real challenge is inside of Iran today, they are not caused by the economic sanctions, they are caused by 40 years of Islamic regime".

Last month, Iran announced that if a way could not be found within 60 days to shield it from U.S. sanctions targeting its economy and oil industry, it would increase its enrichment of uranium beyond the purity allowed under the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In other words, Washington has no intention to let up on its campaign of "maximum pressure" on Iran.

The U.S.is sending hundreds of additional troops to the region after blaming Iran and Iranian proxies for recent sabotage to tankers in the Persian Gulf and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure.

Iran and the United States have been drawn into starker confrontation in the past month, a year after Washington pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting worldwide sanctions.

On Friday, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog reported that Iran may be in violation of limits on the number of advanced centrifuges it can use.

Mr Pompeo declined to comment on findings but said: "We also have our own independent understanding of what is taking place there".

"The world should be mindful of how we are watching closely how Iran is complying with the requirements that were set out", he said.

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