GENEVA, May 27, (Agencies): Washington’s sanctions policy threatens the security of the Middle East, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Monday, according to a statement on the ministry’s website. Araqchi, while on a visit to Kuwait, also said Iran was ready for dialogue with other countries in the region. US President Donald Trump on Monday backed the Japanese prime minister’s interest in using his country’s good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between the US and its nemesis in the Middle East.
Trump, who has said he’s open to having a dialogue with Iran, has sought to downplay fears of military conflict, but the Iranians have said they have no interest in communicating with the White House. Trump commented during a day that opened with the high pageantry of his meeting with Japan’s emperor but quickly gave way to deliberations over thorny global issues, including North Korea, trade tensions with his Japanese host and the escalating friction between the US and Iran. “I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” he said while meeting with Abe in Tokyo. “The prime minister’s already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also. We’ll see what happens … nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”
Trump has imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, which are crippling its economy. Late last week, he announced the deployment of 1,500 US troops to the region amid the tensions. The US earlier deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf in response to intelligence of Iranian threats to US interests in the region.
Trump said a deal with Iran on its nuclear programme was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in the Middle East. “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen,”
Trump said during a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. “It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change – I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.” Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran, which denies the accusations.
The United States has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers to the Mideast region and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, prompting fears of a conflict. Trump’s comments came after his national security adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that the United States had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, without providing details.
“They were fighting in many locations,” he said of Iran. “Now they are pulling back because they have serious economic problems.” Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran, described recent bomb attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone as “manifestations of concern” about Iran. Iran has distanced itself from the bombings and on Sunday, its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said his country will defend itself against any military or economic aggression.
Washington’s decision to increase the level of troops in the Middle East will lead to increasing tension in the region, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday. In a press conference with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Lavrov said that the increase of military presence in the Middle East would only complicate the situation, hoping that Washington would heed the calls for de-escalating tension with Tehran.
The Russian Foreign Minister deemed the Iranian proposal for an accord preventing aggression among the countries in the region was the right policy, revealing that this proposal was in line with Moscow’s initiative for the region, which involves the GCC states and Iran. He indicated that the Russian initiative to establish an overseeing security entity in the Gulf region was discussed in detail with foreign ministers of the GCC and Iran, expressing his view that the establishment of a security accord will help provide a more transparency within the military domain regionally.
Lavrov called on the Arab League, the EU, and the UNSC permanent members to be part of this Russianled initiative for the Middle East region. For his part, the Japanese premier said, “Japan will try to ease tension while working closely with the US.” Abe, who is considering visiting Iran next month, vowed to fulfill Japan’s responsibility to contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East.