RNA - The possibility for a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump is “zero” and the United States should lift sanctions and return to the 2015 nuclear deal if it wants to talk, an Iranian official was quoted by Reuters as saying on Wednesday.
Also, speaking ahead of a ministerial meeting of the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Diplomacy is the only way to resolve issues ... this meeting gives us an opportunity to review where we are.”
His remarks came after Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said that President Rouhani's initiative that includes talks on a minute change in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action still insists on the US return to the nuclear deal and removal of all sanctions.
"We will repeat the issues and conditions that we had raised before in the today meeting of (Iran and) the 4+1. We say that sanctions should be removed and the states (party to the nuclear deal) should return to the same conditions that were prevalent in the past and their previous standing," Rabiyee told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.
"Under such conditions, negotiation will be possible too and even the president has tried to break the deadlock to build confidence and offered a small change in the heart of the nuclear deal. The president will raise this proposal but our condition is that the nuclear deal member states should return to their standings in the nuclear deal and the sanctions should be removed," he added.
Rabiyee noted that Iran has participated in the UN General Assembly meeting in New York full-handed, saying that the country has received many messages for a meeting between presidents Rouhani and Trump.
"If they return to the conditions of the agreement, we will come to make a decision as well, but anything which happens will be within the framework of the 5+1."
He underscored that the same issues raised in the past will be discussed in the upcoming meeting between Iran and 4+1, and added, "Of course, removal of sanctions and returning to the conditions of the deal are issues which cannot be described as prerequisites, but we say that they should return to where they were. Sanctions should be removed completely and the other side should return to the conditions of the deal."
President Rouhani had underlined earlier this month that his government had never been after holding direct talks with the White House, reiterating that there would be no talks with the US as long as Washington imposes sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
“We’ve said it before time and again, and we say it again: We have no intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States. We never did and never will. It has been the case in the past year and a half, and even in previous years. There have been calls for talks, but we never responded to them,” President Rouhani said in a Parliament session.
Stressing that holding bilateral talks with the US is not on the table, Rouhani added it is only possible in the framework of talks between Iran and 5+1 signatories of the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“We said that the US, as part of the 5+1, held talks with us and we took part in the talks. If the US lifts all of its sanctions against Iran, whether it returns to the JCPOA or not, it does not matter to us, but if it lifts all sanctions, it is still possible for the US to be part of the 5+1; granted that it first removes all sanctions,” the president underlined.
"When we talk about negotiations, we only mean it under the situation where all sanctions have been lifted; that is, the situation we previously had under the JCPOA. Our stance is clear," Rouhani stressed.
"Our progress is a testament to the fact that resisting [against pressure] works. On the other hand, an active diplomacy can pave the way for us. We have never closed the doors of diplomacy and never will do so...We don't believe that only one of these two tools should be used," said Rouhani.
About Iran's measures to scale down its commitments under the JCPOA, Rouhani said, "If the remaining signatories to the nuclear deal can live up to a part of their commitments, we may reconsider reducing our commitments. But if they fail to take any solid step, we will definitely take the third step in a few days."
"The further we move along this path, it may make solving the issue more difficult, but since our steps are designed in a way that we can return to the starting point at any given time we desire, it will not take any time, and we will continue our talks even after taking the third step," Rouhani went on to add.
"The basis of our talks with the European side is that we want them to pre-purchase our oil and the revenues to be in our possession. This will ease the situation for us to decide against making more cuts to our commitments to the JCPOA," he added.
"We haven't reached a final agreement yet, but negotiations are still underway. If we fail to reach a conclusive result by Thursday, we will announce the third stage of our cuts to the JCPOA commitments," Rouhani concluded.