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Iran Foreign Minister says US giving 'contradictory signals' on nuclear deal

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    United Nations, Jul 18: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Washington to meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has said Tehran is receiving "contradictory signals" from the US administration about the fate of the nuclear deal.

    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

    In New York to attend a UN forum on development, Zarif said he was open to speak with Tillerson as Washington carries out a review of the 2015 agreement reached with world powers on curbing Iran's nuclear program.

    "There are no communications between myself and Secretary Tillerson," Zarif said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    "It doesn't mean there can't be. The possibilities for engagement... have always been open," he added.

    President Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to scrap the nuclear agreement -- which he described as "the worst deal ever" -- and in May ordered a review of the pact.

    "We receive contradictory signals," Zarif said when asked about the possible outcome of the review.

    "It's very clear that Iran is serious about the nuclear deal and we believe the nuclear deal can lay the foundation," he said.

    The absence of communication with the US administration is in sharp contrast with Zarif's dealings with former secretary of state John Kerry, with whom he negotiated the agreement. Zarif said he and Kerry spent more time together "than with anybody else." The foreign minister asserted that Iran would never seek to develop nuclear weapons and recalled that the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, had certified that Tehran was in compliance with the agreement.

    Representatives of the five nuclear powers -- China, Russia, France, Britain, the United States -- plus Germany are to meet in Vienna on Friday to take stock of the deal. Zarif said they would discuss Iran's complaints about non-US compliance, accusing the US administration of failing to lift sanctions in line with the deal.

    Any move by the US Congress to re-impose sanctions on Iran would "of course" be "a violation" of the nuclear deal, Zarif said, but he did not say what Tehran's response would be to such legislation. The foreign minister also offered to do "all it takes from my side" to address, on humanitarian grounds, the case of a Chinese-American sentenced to 10 years in prison and that of other US detainees.

    Asked about Xiyue Wang, a 37-year-old researcher at Princeton University, Zarif said Iran's courts were independent and that "we in the government do not have any control over the decisions of the judiciary."


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