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Trump Warns Iran Against Killing Protesters

Iranians students chant slogans as they demonstrate following a tribute for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 11, 2020.

Donald Trump warned Iran Sunday against killing protesters who have come out to show their anger over the regime's downing of a civilian airliner as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions.

This is Trump’s second series of comments about new protests in Iran in as many days. On Saturday, the U.S. president praised the courage of Iranians and said his administration supports them.

His comments came as Iran's Islamic regime faced a challenge from angry street protests, having come to the brink of war with the U.S. with a series of tit-for-tat confrontations.

"To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS," Trump tweeted, warning the world and "more importantly, the USA is watching."

During widespread protests in November Iran's security forces killed hundreds of protesters and have withheld all information from the public.

In an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" just before the tweet, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper reiterated that Trump is still willing to hold talks with Iran's leaders. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has banned direct talks with the U.S.

"We're willing to sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward, a series of steps by which Iran becomes a more normal country," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

With reporting by AFP