Turkey's Erdogan offers to mediate between US and Iran

He discussed the issue of a possible mediation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 02: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People on July 2, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mark Schiefelbein - Pool/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is willing to mediate between the United States and Iran to ease tensions over Iran's nuclear programme.

In comments published Thursday, Mr Erdogan said he had discussed the issue of a possible mediation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting.

Mr Erdogan says Mr Abe asked the Turkish leader whether Turkey and Japan could act together, to which Mr Erdogan responded that he would be willing to meet with Iran's leaders.

Mr Erdogan spoke to Turkish journalists during a visit to China. His comments were published in the pro-government Sabah newspaper.

Iran has warned that it will increase its enrichment of uranium as tensions rise a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to "any amount that we want" beginning on Sunday, ramping up pressure on European nations to save the faltering nuclear deal from the damage inflicted by US sanctions.

Iran announced Monday that it had already breached the pact's limitations on stockpiles of low-enriched uranium.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini – a guarantor of the 2015 pact – said Thursday that "we've called on Iran to reverse these steps and to refrain from further measures that would undermine the nuclear agreement."

The European Union said that it is in contact with signatories of the nuclear agreement and will discuss with them what steps to take should the country ramp up uranium enrichment this weekend.

Iran has signalled that it could reverse and come back to the negotiating table.

Iran's intelligence minister said Tehran and Washington could hold talks only if the United States ended its sanctions and Iran's top authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave his approval, state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday.

"Holding talks with America can be reviewed by Iran only If (U.S. President Donald) Trump lifts the sanctions and our supreme leader gives permission to hold such talks," Mahmoud Alavi said late on Wednesday.

"Americans were scared of Iran's military power, that is the reason behind their decision to abort the decision to attack Iran."