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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Iran's Zarif demands US compensation before any new talks

Foreign minister says ‘books are not closed’ on Suleimani’s death

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says the US is bullying Iran. AFP
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says the US is bullying Iran. AFP

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has increased the stakes in the stand-off with America by demanding compensation for the country’s current hardships from Washington's sanctions before entering negotiations.

Lashing out at US President Donald Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran as an alternative to the 2015 nuclear deal, Mr Zarif said the “damages” inflicted on Iran were wrong.

“They have to be corrected,” he said, speaking to a forum organised by New York's Council on Foreign Relations. “Compensate us for our losses.”

US officials said last week that all sanctions removed from Iran under the agreement had snapped back into place as a result of non-compliance by Tehran.

In the run-up to the US presidential election in November, Mr Zarif said Tehran would not take a different tack if Democratic contender Joe Biden won.

“A sign of good faith is not to try to renegotiate what has already been negotiated,” he said.

Mr Zarif also told Washington that Tehran had not dropped the threat of retaliation after the assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani in Iraq in January.

He said the general, who was killed in a US drone strike, was a national hero and that “the books are not closed” on the matter.

Mr Zarif indicated that dual nationals in the country’s jails were up for bargaining by telling the think tank that Tehran wanted a negotiated prisoner swap.

“I repeat, we can exchange all prisoners, period,” he said.

Relatives of Iranian-American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi used the lead-up to the annual UN General Assembly meetings, which start this week, to issue a new appeal for their freedom.

But Navy veteran Michael White, detained since 2018, returned home in June as part of a deal in which the US allowed Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri to visit Iran.

Mr White said he contracted the coronavirus while in detention.

Washington and Tehran also completed a prisoner exchange in which Iran freed Xiyue Wang, who had been held for three years on spying charges, in return for Massoud Suleimani, who faced charges of contravening US sanctions on Iran.

Tehran has denied that it holds people on political grounds and has mostly accused its foreign prisoners of espionage.

Updated: September 22, 2020 12:42 AM

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