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Zarif Says 'Mutual Respect' Between Washington And Tehran Important

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov (both not pictured) in Istanbul, Turkey, 30 October 2018.

In an exclusive interview with USA Today, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said his country would consider discussions with the United States if “foundations for a fruitful dialogue” exist.

President Donald Trump has said he wants new negotiations to redraw the 2015 landmark nuclear deal the Obama administration negotiated with the Islamic Republic. But he also insists on Iran altering its regional foreign policy and “malign activities”.

Zarif told USA Today in his long interview in Antalya, Turkey that "Mutual trust is not a requirement to start negotiations – mutual respect is a requirement”. He mentioned president Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal as an example of the U.S. not respecting its own signature.

The Islamic Republic has always complained about U.S. not respecting Iran’s independence, but since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the government has consistently used a strong anti-U.S. rhetoric, organizing frequent gatherings where U.S. flags are burned and “Death to America” is chanted.

In an attempt to defend Iran against accusations of supporting terrorist groups and interfering in the affairs of regional countries, Zarif pointed fingers at Saudi Arabia and the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, as well as to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. with the involvement of many Saudi nationals.

Zarif’s comments on the eve of additional U.S. sanctions can be viewed both as a signal to the U.S. administration or an attempt to sway world opinion in favor of Iran.