Iranian Supreme Leader’s top international relations adviser says Iran will not leave Syria because of US threats. At the same time, US pressures on Iran continue.
Ali Akbar Velayati who held a meeting with Russian Leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 12, said on Friday that Iranian “military advisers” are in Syria to “protect it against terrorism,” Tasnim news agency reported.
Speaking at a press conference in London on July 13, U.S. President Donald Trump says he has urged Britain to maintain pressure on Iran and agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May that Tehran must never possess nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the United states has rejected a request by France for waivers for its companies operating in Iran, Reuters reported on Friday July 13.
Paris sought the waiver after US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic following its pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro.
According to Reuters, Paris had singled out key areas where it expected either exemptions or extended wind-down periods for French companies, including energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and automotive.
Le Maire has said that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has given “a negative response” to France’s call for a waiver.
He said the call was made in a letter signed by the chief diplomats of the UK, France and Germany.
The French official said the United States’ negative response would adversely affect the activities of the French company Total in Iran. Total had announced in May that without exemption from US sanctions it would not be able to continue working on Iran’s South Pars gas project.
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said at the time that the Chinese National Oil Company would take over the project in case Total leaves Iran.
Le Maire has insisted that Europe should take measures to protect its economic independence.
Iranian officials have not yet responded to the US refusal to waiver sanctions for Europeans companies.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said Washington continued to urge US allies to cut oil imports from Iran.
Trump in May pulled the United States out of a joint deal on Iran's nuclear program, reinstating US sanctions and effectively barring many multinational firms from doing business in that country.
New US sanctions on Iranian oil exports are set to take effect in November although US officials have floated the possibility of offering some waivers.
"I think we expect that the Iranian oil shipments will decrease significantly," he said.
In another development, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini said following a meeting in Brussels on Thursday that they agreed that Iran’s destructive activity in the Middle East posed a threat against peace in the region.
Hours before the meeting Pompeo had called for countering Iran’s regional ambitions. He said in a July 12 tweet: “#Iran continues to send weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of #UN Security Council resolutions. Iran’s regime wants to start trouble wherever it can. It’s our responsibility to stop it.”
Iran has ruled out its “support for terrorism” in the region and once again insisted on Friday that its forces in Syria have an advisory role.
Nevertheless, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top adviser Ali Akbar Velayati who has been visiting Moscow, said on Friday that “Iran’s presence in Syria will continue. Iran will not leave Syria because of US threats. We are there to protect Syria from terrorism,” Tasnim News Agency quoted him as saying.
Velayati further added: “Iranian military advisers are in Syria and Iraq because the two countries’ government have asked us to deploy them.”