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Zarif Says He Was Threatened With Sanctions If He Refused To Talk With Trump

IRAN -- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Tehran, August 5, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he was told during his recent visit to the United States that he would be sanctioned within two weeks if he refused to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Speaking Monday morning August 5 in his first press conference after being sanctioned, Zarif said the sanction against him was "A defeat for diplomacy."

Zarif further claimed that the United States is not willing to hold talks with Iran.

Meanwhile, several Iranian officials including Majles Speaker Ali Larijani met with Zarif Monday morning to express support for the embattled Foreign Minister who has been sanctioned by the U.S. and criticized by his political rivals at home for the tough situation Iran faces on the world arena.

Zarif thanked Larijani and several other officials including presidential administration spokesman Ali Rabiee who had described him with a touch of exaggerated Iranian pleasantry as "a media outlet" all by himself that creates and disseminates messages.

On Sunday, the spokesman for the Iranian government and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council also confirmed that Zarif was invited to the White House.

U.S. Officials have still not reacted to these reports.

The New Yorker had reported on Friday, citing diplomatic sources, that Senator Rand Paul had invited Zarif to the White House to hold direct talks with Trump.

Zarif told senator Paul that he needed to consult with Tehran and eventually it turned out the Iranian Supreme Leader did not allow Zarif to take part in the meeting, the New Yorker reported.

Two weeks after Zarif's meeting with Senator Rand Paul, the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on Zarif.

During the news conference on Monday, Zarif criticized the United States for withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran and lashed out at Europe for failing to fulfil its obligations under the 2015 deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Zarif claimed that the United States has become isolated in the world to the point that it cannot form a regional coalition against Iran.

A Change of Rhetoric

Meanwhile, in an elaborate change of rhetoric which made Zarif sound like Iranian hardliners, he claimed that Iran downed a U.S. drone last month using a one hundred percent homegrown missile.

He dismissed the United States’ status as a superpower, adding that "the only superpower is God." Meanwhile, he reminded U.S. officials that "the Iranian empire is several times older than the United States."

Also, in a populist and at the same time paradoxical remark, Zarif who had earlier said Iranians themselves chose to live in hardship, claimed that Iranian officials are the people's servants, but will not hide behind the people.

Elsewhere in the news conference Zarif claimed that the United States makes trouble for some individuals who meet with him during his visits to New York.

He accused the U.S. administration of "talking big" and saying who has and who does not have a say in foreign policy. He said "Iran's foreign policy is formed around a collective debate."

He also accused Europe of not meeting even a single one of their 11 commitments stipulated in the 2015 nuclear deal.

Zarif said that he has no political ambition beyond the post of foreign minister. Toward the end of the news conference, when he was asked about his future, Zarif said, "I can promise, and would sign this statement, that after 2021, I will be either at home or teaching at a university."