Michael Pompeo willing to travel to Tehran to address Iranians

Published on Jul 26, 2019 11:10 AM IST
President Donald Trump has said he’s open to talks with Iran, saying the US is ready to negotiate at any time for a new deal that would strengthen limits on Iran’s nuclear program and replace the multinational deal that President Barack Obama backed in 2015 and Trump abandoned last year.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he would be willing to travel to Tehran to address the Iranian people about US foreign policy.(PTI Photo)
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he would be willing to travel to Tehran to address the Iranian people about US foreign policy.(PTI Photo)
Bloomberg | ByKevin Cirilli and Nick Wadhams

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he would be willing to travel to Tehran to address the Iranian people about US foreign policy as the Trump administration applies maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic to renegotiate a nuclear accord.

“Sure, if that’s the call, happily go there,” Pompeo said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television. “I’d like a chance to go, not do propaganda but speak the truth to the Iranian people about what it is their leadership has done and how it has harmed Iran.”

The secretary of state was speaking hours before CNN reported -- citing an unnamed U.S. official -- that Iran had test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile earlier this week. The U.S. was aware of reports of a projectile launched from Iran, a senior Trump administration official told Bloomberg News, declining further comment.

Pompeo likened a trip to Tehran to how Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif communicates with the American public during his trips to the United Nations in New York. He dismissed the role his Iranian counterpart plays in setting the government’s policy, which he said is driven by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Foreign Minister Zarif is no more in charge of what’s going on in Iran than a man in the moon,” Pompeo said. “At the end of the day, this is driven by the ayatollah. He will be the ultimate decision-maker here.”

President Donald Trump has said he’s open to talks with Iran, saying the U.S. is ready to negotiate at any time for a new deal that would strengthen limits on Iran’s nuclear program and replace the multinational deal that President Barack Obama backed in 2015 and Trump abandoned last year.

But Iran has insisted its leaders won’t talk to the U.S. as long as sanctions that Trump reimposed remain in place. That’s left the two sides in a stalemate, as Iran has started to breach some of the accord’s limits on its nuclear program.

Iran and the U.S. have been at loggerheads since Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement he called the “worst deal ever.” In May, the administration refused to extend waivers to eight governments for Iranian oil purchases, ratcheting up the pressure on the country’s already battered economy.

Trump told reporters at the White House last week that he’s in no hurry for a deal, as Iran is having “tremendous problems” because of U.S. sanctions. “We can do something quickly or we can take our time,” he said. “I’m in no rush.”

In the meantime, tensions continue to soar in the Persian Gulf, where Iran downed an American drone in June and the U.S. came close to launching a retaliatory strike, though Trump ultimately backed down.

Iran has since seized a British oil tanker, signaling it was in retaliation for the British seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar. The U.S. and European allies -- who have sought with little success to keep the nuclear accord intact -- are now trying to establish separate maritime-safety initiatives that would monitor and possibly escort ships that sail through the vital waterway.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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