Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday alleged that U.S. sanctions were imposed against his country after he received an invitation to meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, but had refused the offer.
“I was told in New York that I would be sanctioned if I did not accept this invitation and I did not accept it,’’ Zarif said at a news conference in Tehran.
The U.S. announced financial sanctions on Zarif July 13, penalising another country’s top diplomat in a highly unusual step that could cut off a potential channel for talks.
Republican Senator, Rand Paul made the White House overture at the behest of President Donald Trump during meeting with Zarif in mid-July in New York, according to U.S. media reports.
Zarif said that the invitation was declined because there can be no negotiations with the U.S. as long as they keep a gun to Iran’s head.
The minister said that Iran would only consider holding talks with the Trump administration if it eased the economic sanctions that were reimposed after Washington withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord.
But Zarif said that Iran would not give up on its diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.
“We all come and go, but diplomacy will always be there,’’ he said, suggesting that the political situation could change in Washington.
The U.S. has repeatedly accused Iran of military aggression in the region.
Tensions flared anew in recent weeks over Iran’s seizure of foreign tankers passing through the Gulf.