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Iran leader: US must take first step, lift sanctions

This article is more than 12 months old

TEHERAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday told the US to "take the first step" by lifting all sanctions against Iran, dampening down the likelihood of meeting US counterpart Donald Trump.

And Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the prospects for such a meeting were "unimaginable" without Washington rejoining the nuclear deal with Teheran, two days after he made a surprise trip to Biarritz, France, for talks on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.

Mr Trump had said on Monday he was ready to meet the Iranian President.

Iran's economy has been battered by US sanctions imposed since Mr Trump in May last year unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Said Mr Rouhani in a speech on TV: "The step is to retreat from sanctions. You must retreat from all illegal, unjust and wrong sanctions against the nation of Iran.

"The key for positive change is in the hands of Washington," he added, as Iran had already ruled out what worries the US the most - building an atomic bomb.

"If honestly this is your only concern, this concern has already been removed through a fatwa issued by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (in 2003). We don't (intend to) make an atomic bomb...

"So take the first step. Without this step, this lock will not be unlocked," Mr Rouhani said.

Yesterday, Mr Zarif said he had made it known during the summit that a meeting between Mr Rouhani and Mr Trump would be "not imaginable" until the US rejoins the nuclear pact - and highly improbable even if it did. - AFP