USA sanctions Iran’s foreign minister amid escalating tensions

Iran says it's prepared for dialogue if Saudi Arabia also ready

Iran says it's prepared for dialogue if Saudi Arabia also ready

Since withdrawing unilaterally from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal previous year, Washington has steadily reapplied biting economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, targeting the country's energy, shipping, banking, and military sectors.

"If Saudi Arabia is ready for dialogue, we are always ready for dialogue with our neighbours", he said.

However, the Trump administration is not closing the door to potential nuclear talks with Iran by sanctioning Zarif, who it does not consider a significant decision maker, a USA official said on Wednesday. But the sanctions were delayed after State Department officials argued that would close the door to diplomacy.

Riyadh also accuses Iran of supplying missiles and drones used in cross-border attacks on Saudi cities by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis, a charge both the group and Tehran reject. It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran.

Asked whether sanctioning Iran's chief diplomat would limit USA ability to negotiate with Iran, if negotiations ever take place, a senior administration official said, "If we do have an official contact with Iran, we would want to have contact with someone who is a significant decision-maker".

Iran received a coastguard delegation from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday aimed at reviving maritime security talks cut off in 2013, state media reported.

The U.S. wants some North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to help protect key commercial waterways as tensions soar with Iran, which recently seized a British-flagged tanker.

"The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin released in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

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A Gulf official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said the two sides had "a regular coordination and technical meeting related to the topic of fishermen and other similar topics".

Will tension in the Gulf spiral out of control?

The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia.

"Are the facts of the (Khamenei) regime so bad he can not let me do the same thing in Tehran?" he said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?"

"You don't need to come to Iran", Zarif told reporters, addressing Pompeo.

US-Iranian tensions have soared in recent months after Tehran shot down an American drone and Washington almost launched air strikes in response.

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