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Trump Says He Rejected Iranian Request To Lift Sanctions For Talks

US President Donald J. Trump during a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. New York, USA, 25 September 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump says he rejected a request by Tehran to lift U.S. sanctions in exchange for talks, amid heightened tensions between the two countries over Iran’s nuclear program and other issues.

“Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!” Trump tweeted on September 27 following attempts by Western leaders to get the United States and Iran to revive diplomacy during this week’s UN General Assembly in New York.

Trump’s tweet contradicts comments by Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who was quoted as saying the United States offered to remove all sanctions on Iran in exchange for talks.

Speaking on September 27 on his return from the General Assembly, Rohani said Tehran had not yet accepted the offer due to the current "toxic atmosphere," Reuters reported, citing his official website.

Rohani reportedly said he met in New York with U.S. officials at the insistence of Germany, Britain, and France.

"It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted and [the United States] had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions," he added, according to Reuters.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the United States last year withdrew from a 2015 international deal between Iran and world powers under which Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.

The United States has since reimposed and expanded sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil exports and crippling its economy, and Tehran has begun reducing some of its commitments under the nuclear accord.

Tensions have escalated further over a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Western European countries have blamed on Iran.

Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, and agree curbs to its ballistic-missile program.

Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

With reporting by Reuters